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Illinois HS Football Struggles with Snow-Covered Fields

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Snow-covered fields in Illinois have schools scrambling to figure out how they’re going to accommodate football seasons that were moved to spring due to the ongoing pandemic.

A harsh winter has left most football fields in the northern part of the state covered with snow.

Area football teams began official workouts this past week, however the Big Northern Conference isn’t slated to begin games until March 26.

"We saw some turf issues coming, but I think that a lot of us are still in shock with what's happening," Rebecca Hoffman, athletic director at Harlem, which has one of the four coveted turf football fields in the NIC-10, told the Rockford Register Star. "Anyone with field turf is going a little crazy right now with everything that's going on. It's been a challenge, but we're getting it done."

Hoffman said she has scheduled early-season games for eight high schools, charging a nominal fee to cover maintenance.

Scheduling games on area turf fields has been the strategy for many schools.

"We just didn't want to risk our field for the next year," Lena-Winslow athletic director Tom Smargiassi said. "When we made the decision, we were looking at two things mainly: A) How do you get rid of all the snow and ice in time? And B) Will it be completely frozen underneath once you do? And then there's the muddy mess that can come after that. We didn't know if it would ever recover by the fall if we tried to play on it."

Le-Win will play its first two home games at Freeport, and several other NUIC teams will play home games elsewhere as well.

Freeport athletic director Jeff Fitzpatrick said his school still has room for more teams on their schedules.

"We never expected to be in this situation, but it's also a dream just to be getting ready to play football again, so you do what you have to do," Fitzpatrick said. Freeport's turf field was installed 10 years ago. "We have to make sure we accommodate all of our teams, but we want to help any others that need it as well."

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