WEST FARGO -- It's been just a little less than four months since high school basketball stopped in North Dakota due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
For that time, Fargo Shanley girls basketball coach Steve Jacobson and parent Kent Busek were brainstorming how to make it safe for players to play together again.
"Our goal was just to get them out and playing and have some fun rather than being trapped in the house for a month or two," Jacobson said.
They accomplished that goal this week with the start of the North Dakota Open at the Rustad Center on Wednesday.
Six teams are playing in the two-day event: Central Cass. Grafton, Grand Forks Red River, Kindred, Shanley, and the Eastern Dakota Elite AAU team.
"I think it's really exciting that it all came together with everything that came up," said Deacon senior guard Kate Busek.
Even with concerns about COVID-19 still at a heightened level, players were excited to get back on the floor.
"We weren't sure what was going to happen this summer, but as soon as we got the go, we knew we wanted to come right away," said Grafton senior guard Cassie Sieben.
The biggest hurdle to making sure the event could happen was to ensure safety precautions were taken.
Organizers implemented changes such as officials wiping down basketball before they are used, separating the benches so players sit farther apart, eliminating the traditional postgame handshake line, and installing hand sanitizing stations at each exit.
It's hard, though, for players to think about the concerns, guidelines, or precautions when they step on the floor again.
"I definitely have to remind myself definitely because I get lost in the game and playing," said Brynn Giesen, a senior guard from West Fargo.
That's something they'll have to do for a while. Concerns aren't going away from sports in the near or distant future, so any athlete will have to learn to play with those in mind.
"You can get it whenever," said Cassie Sieben, a senior guard from Grafton. "We knew there was a risk coming in but we just take the precautions, do the things that we can control, and just play."