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DeKALB — Stacked to the brim of the NIU Convocation Center for much of the game, a combination of majority Indian Creek fans and supporters of Aurora Christian were in their seats well before tip-off.
Meanwhile supporters of Timothy Christian and Fieldcrest, the game that played after, streamed in to add to the atmosphere on a day where many events nationwide were postponed or canceled due to fear of the corona virus.
Kathleen Greer of Lee of was in attendance with her children, and has been excited to see the support from Indian Creek's communities.
“I would expect it from a small town, truly," Greer said, while sporting a black booster club IC shirt with red sparkles that many in attendance wore. "But it’s unreal to be able to do that and have that happen to them. I don’t have any kids on the team, I just have kids in the school district, so to be able to support them and see how excited parents are..."
Greer trailed off, looking around to greet a parade of children who were surrounding her.
A nurse, Greer said letters have been sent home to the parents of children about cleanliness and that she's encouraging her kids to wash their hands, but ultimately was not concerned.
“I’m a nurse, I’m not worried about it at all," Greer said.
Hinckley-Big Rock student Riley Hogan, a multi-sport athlete for the Royals, said he was there to support fellow athletes he considered friends. Hogan said he knew of athletes from Earlville and other Little Ten Conference programs in attendance.
“Coming from small schools around us, we all know each other," Hogan said. "We’re all good friends with each other, being out here coming to support them … I’ll see them after the game obviously, I’ve already texted them and everything. It’s good to come out and support people I’ve known for my entire life basically.”
Hogan recalled a former NIU player with local ties, and marveled at the contrast in attendance.
“Coming from the Little Ten, Jenna Thorp a girls player from Hinckley, we came and watched a couple of her games when she was here and NIU games weren’t this packed," Hogan said.
Like others in attendance, no one seemed particularly bothered by the steady stream of news about Coronavirus that permeated the news cycle over the last week, especially Tuesday.
"It’s more concerning to the teachers, they’re more concerned about the students," Hogan said. "It’s more of a joke to our school. We still take it seriously, but we don’t think it’s going to spread.”
Indian Creek Athletic director Ehren Mertz said there were no discussions between him and the Convocation Center staff about moving the event or changing the date as a precaution.
“This is awesome," Mertz said about the environment. "Our fan support has been phenomenal. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen this many Indian Creek people in my entire life all in one place.”
He cited the IHSA's guidance that activities would be on moving forward, but didn't speak for Aurora Christian in doing so.
“They posted on their website today that as of today, all state series competitions were still on as of today, so I’m going with that," Mertz said.