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CIAC: Popular proposal loosens out-of-season coaching rules

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CHESHIRE — More changes in high school sports appear to be approaching that will allow coaches to coach their athletes in the summer.

The CIAC’s Board of Control passed a proposal last week that would permit coaches to coach their athletes starting the Monday following the spring championships weekend in June until the second Saturday in August.

The proposal was submitted by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association and the Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors to the CIAC Out of Season Committee.

Final approval rests with principals of CIAC member schools, who will vote on the issue in May. If it passes, the new rule would go into effect in the summer of 2024.

Coaches would be able to meet with their athletes two days a week for two hours, or the amount of time it takes to complete a single game. One stipulation: The activity cannot be mandatory for athletes.

Currently, coaches may coach one non-school team out of season, but only with a maximum of high school players, a number that is defined individually sport by sport.

Coaches can also organize offseason conditioning programs so long as they’re not mandatory.

The mesaure is likely to pass. The FCIAC, CAAD and CHSCA submitted a proposal last year to allow out-of-season coaching and the CIAC sent out surveys asking schools about interest. Seventy five percent (148 out of 184) of member school principals supported a change.

After that, a revised proposal was submitted to the CIAC Out of Season Committee and 71 percent of the 154 principals who responded to that plan approved.

“I think this proposal has been received with overwhelming support of the membership,” CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini said. “The majority of principals wanted changes and it will be up for review at the annual meeting in May or the beginning of June.”

Lungarini said the proposed changes have been put forth to keep student-athletes and their peers connected locally through the sports.

“Relationships between teammates and athletes and coaches are special,” Lungarini said. “The current rules have resulted in scenarios where the communities or parents are able to provide access to elite clubs and training in the summer that some athletes don’t have access to. But with these changes athletes will have the ability to work with their high school coaches. This is a great opportunity for all athletes.”

Lungarini said CAAD and CHSCA will identify examples of practices the schools may choose to run. Specifically for football, the sessions would be no-contact with no pads, but passing leagues would be acceptable.

“Current rule for football is coaching up to six kids, and passing leagues are typically seven (players),” Lungarini said. “Now coaches can work with linemen and do drills. We might see teams combine for a passing league for teams in communities close to each other. They can do one day of skill building and another day with four, five or six teams playing in a passing league for a few hours. There are a lot of ways this could be put together.”

Platt football coach Jason Bruenn said he likes the general sentiment of the proposal, but is awaiting more details.

“It’s a good idea and it will allow us to prepare for the season in a better way,” Bruenn said. “I would like to see spring practices right after school or 10 days in July with helmets, but this is a good start.” 

Southington Athletic Director Steve Risser said his school voted in favor of the change.

“A lot of student-athletes are active with summer camps, but coaches couldn’t train with them outside of some conditioning,” Risser said. “Coaches had a very limited amount of players they could work with in the summer and this opens up more access to their teams in the summer.”

Risser said the Southington Athletic Department will oversee the scheduling of their summer practices.

“Another thing our multi-sport student-athletes have to be aware of that they could be doing this for three sports and the hours could add up,” Risser said. “Our kids and coaches will still want their time off, but it’s something to keep in perspective.”


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