By Christopher Johnson


Middle School practice and matches will already be underway before the Durand Lady Bulldogs join with their western Winnebago County neighbors in tipping-off the 2021-2022 high school sports season.

It’s a normal year in many ways for athletes with the varsity volleyball team. They’ll be attired slightly differently, but will be able to play in front of a full house for the first time in nearly a year.

Some cheers may be slightly muffled as fans, along with players, coaches, media representatives and officials follow the “mask up for match-ups” mandate.

First game play of the varsity volleyball season is scheduled to be played on the road on Saturday, Aug. 28, one day after Durand’s partner-athletes take to the road for their first football game of the regular fall season.

Volleyball at home materialize on Tuesday, Aug. 31 for the Lady Bulldogs. Opening ceremonies for the varsity team will occur following completion of the junior varsity match against Millledgeville at 6 p.m.

September play begins with a match at home ahead of a weekend request to appear in the annual Oregon Invitational Tournament, Saturday, Sept. 4.

Memories of completion of the 2020-2021 athletic season remain fresh for many suiting up for the Friday, Aug. 27 away football game at East Dubuque.

The Durand-Pecatonica Rivermen closed down the 2020-2021 football campaign a little over three months ago.

The prep period is underway for the 2021-2022 football season and Pecatonica Athletic Director Kevin Kunkel said there are requirements that must be met before students can play in season premieres.

“Fall practice began on Monday, Aug. 9 and all fall athletes must be registered with their physical turned in before practice.”

Area health facilities run through Rockford and Freeport locations have offered physicals for those athletes needing them.

A discounted cost was often available for students who had all documents in order, which often mandated a parental approval.

Additional requirements have to be met according to Kunkel, which means proactive steps must be taken by the prospective athlete in waiting.

“If you plan on playing any sport or participating in any activity, you must register on rschool today. It is separate from the school registration.”

Kunkel explained that students could go online, through the Pecatonica School website, and find  much of the information they would need to assure they could complete certain forms.

Consent agreements, allowing IHSA mandated actions to be taken, had to be in hand as well, according to the Pecatonica Athletic Director.

“Forms needed include the Handbook Acknowledgment, random drug testing consent, concussion protocol and Athletico Consent to Treat Form.”

“If you have problems with registration,” Kunkel explained, “please contact or call 612-605-1623.”

Participation fees were also some of the prep materials required for athletes at area school districts, ahead of the late August debut of the 2021-2022 regularly scheduled, slightly-modified, fall sports season.

Recent regulations put in place by the IHSA require any indoor sports athlete to be masked up, with fans, and all others in an indoor setting required to follow protocols put in place by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker.

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