Since the coronavirus pandemic swept through Connecticut this year and forced the cancellation of the high school spring sports season, athletes, coaches, administrators, and fans have turned their attention to when athletics can be safely return.
With the fall season fast approaching, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference is working to create a timeline for students and schools.
On Thursday morning, the CIAC invited athletic directors from around the state to participate in a virtual meeting. School officials were able to ask questions about the status of the fall season, but were told that specific guidelines, as well as a revised schedule, would be released today.
Athletic directors were originally told the plan would be released on Thursday at 4 p.m., but the CIAC later moved the announcement to today at noon, so school superintendents could review the guidelines first.
“We truly appreciate all of their efforts to give athletes a sports season this fall,” said Cheshire High School Athletic Director Steve Trifone.
According to Trifone, the CIAC said that they have created a plan for all fall sports.
“They talked about safety like how we don’t have to sanitize outside fields,” said Trifone. “They said that they will give us a general time frame for sports. I believe the specific sports material will come later.”
Trifone said Cheshire and other schools are putting together various procedures in their leagues, along with the state as a whole.
“If we do have concerns and sports need to be shut down, we will do that,” Trifone said. “I’ve been in contact with our coaches to develop a game plan."
As long as activities can be handled safely, Platt Athletic Director Rich Katz feels that athletics will welcomed back in Meriden.
“Most of the kids in our school, as well as Maloney, are multi-sport athletes and many compete in the spring, so if we lose the fall season, they will have gone two seasons without those activities,” Katz said. “The kids need extra-curricular activities, including the band and theater. You don’t only educate a student in the classroom.”
While the CIAC canceled school sports in the spring, they made a plan to allow athletes to do conditioning cohorts in limited numbers this summer. Teams have been allowed to hold three one-hour sessions per week.
“I thought the CIAC guidelines were very fair. They kept the social distancing and masks on (people),” Katz said. “I thought that (the program) really helped to give the students a gradual increase in their conditioning.”
Katz has enjoyed seeing summer baseball and softball games be played at Platt, as well as tennis across the street from the school and hiking nearby.
“We’ve seen that all spring sports can work during the summer time,” said Katz. “Hopefully, fall will be able to do the same.”
Southington Athletic Director Steve Risser commends students for the way they’ve adapted to uncertainty regarding high school sports.
“We felt for the spring kids who lost a season, but they handled it with maturity,” said Risser. “I applaud the kids in Connecticut for helping us get the metrics down, so that we have the opportunity to play a fall season.”
Currently, CIAC football is scheduled to be the first sport to start practice on Aug. 17. The remaining teams will follow on Aug. 25.
“I think people are willing to make it (sports) work,” said Trifone. “It is important that everybody cooperates and follows the guidelines. If we are limited to fans this fall, we want everybody to accept that.”