Huber, LePage in unique situation as coaches, parents during pandemic
Like so many others, Matt LePage and Lance Huber are dads with basketball-playing high school kids concerned about what will happen to the upcoming season.
They also are in a unique position, the varsity coaches at Crystal Lake South and Dundee-Crown, respectively.
Their sons, Jason Huber, a junior at Dundee-Crown, and Cooper LePage, a sophomore at Crystal Lake South, are waiting to see when -- or if -- their seasons happen.
"It's probably one of the toughest challenges we've had as a teacher, coach, parent, I'll put it all together," Matt LePage said. "It's not easy.
"Sometimes you scratch your head and don't know completely what to say. There's a lot of people in the same boat."
Lance Huber said he would love to help parents deal with all the uncertainty, except he's trying to figure it out, too.
"I wish I had some advice but I'm really going through it for the first time as a parent and as a coach," Huber said. "I'm looking for some myself.
"As a coach it's disappointing, as a parent it's disappointing."
Cooper LePage made Crystal Lake South's varsity as a freshman last year, the start of what normally would be a stellar four-year high school career.
When the roller coaster of conflicting news came out last week from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the Illinois High School Association, the department of public health and the state board of education, Matt LePage was glued to all of it. Matt said Cooper followed the updates for awhile.
"At first he was but after last week it's tell me what's going on and where I have to be," Matt LePage said. "I think the kids are so confused. They don't really know what end is up right now. No consistency."
LePage was encouraged when the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association survey came out last month. The results showed schools around the state held contact days without COVID outbreaks.
"I thought we had some powerful stats and showed we could do it safely," LePage said. "I feel bad with my son but I feel bad for everybody missing out. I struggle with the idea that other states are playing and that's one of the hard things I always go back to."
Jason Huber is the second of two sons Lance Huber has coached with the Chargers. Kyle Huber graduated last year.
Lance said he finds himself reminiscing about moments he shared with Kyle. He doesn't want to miss those times with Josh.
"When your kids are little you think it's going to be great to coach my kid," Lance Huber said. "And then you go through it and you are caught up in the moment and when it's over you realize you are never going to get that time back again. You reflect on it and you really, really miss it. As a parent you are going to cherish all these moments."
Still going to play
LePage also has younger daughters who play basketball, soccer and volleyball. The family spent much of their fall weekends in Wisconsin and Indiana taking their daughters to games.
Both LePage and Huber are preparing for their sons to be in a similar situation.
"You go to Wisconsin or Indiana and everyone is from Illinois," Matt LePage said. "It's unbelievable. It's the wild, wild West. That's more of an issue than what's going on at the high school level."
It's easy to see the same thing happening if there's not a high school basketball season.
Teams will form and travel out of state to play on weekends. They won't be coached by their high school coaches.
Huber worries those games won't be played as safely as they could be with an IHSA season, one that had been proposed without fans and players in masks.
"To be honest I've been looking for ways for my son to play some basketball whether it's going to Wisconsin or going to Indiana or playing in some tournaments," Huber said. "All these kids only have one opportunity to go through high school. We will be able to go to work next year but these kids won't get a do-over.
"I know people that have gone out of state to play and will continue to and will come back to this state and play basketball wherever they can play whether it's rec centers that are allowing that stuff against the rules. It's going to happen and they are going to play and they are going to find a way to do it. The risk of bringing more stuff back in if the states around us are supposedly worse and that's the only place kids can play, parents are going to take their kids there."
The similarities between LePage and Huber don't end on the basketball court. They extend to the golf course.
Both coach golf at their schools, and they were able to spend time on the course this fall relating.
"It was good to talk to someone in a similar situation," LePage said. "We all just want an opportunity. When that clock ticks, when your kid starts high school, you don't get that time back. And as a parent that's tough for me."