SOUTHINGTON — Coming off a Class L and State Open championship season, Southington gymnastics is hoping to defend both titles this winter.
However, the Blue Knights, like all winter sports teams in Connecticut, will have to wait a little longer to compete after the CIAC announced Tuesday that the winter sports season won’t start until January 19 at the earliest.
The news was met with disappointment by the state’s defending gymastics champs.
“Obviously, it hurts because we have a really strong group and a lot of senior, more than we ever have before,” said Southington coach Cassidy Chamberland. “I’m definitely sad for the seniors right now. We are keeping faith, come January 19th, something will still come out of the season.
“Obviously, we need to think about their health first. I have faith and hope we will get something out of the winter season.”
Chamberland said the team will do everything within its power to compete, including wearing masks.
“On floor it may be a little more difficult because it’s so intense,” Chamberland said. “But I think we will do anything to follow the guidelines and make something out of the season. If that means wearing a mask, that’s something we will do.”
Gymnastics, like basketball and hockey, has been deemed a moderate-risk sport by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, in alignment with the National Federation of High School Associations. The DPH position is moderate-risk sports can be played this winter so long as mitigation steps are taken, such as wearing masks during competition.
Kelly Perrotti and Lizy Beaulieu, two returning seniors for the Blue Knights, say they have been wearing masks while competing during their club seasons.
“Masks aren’t a big adjustment,” Beaulieu said. “It’s more about being in a mask when we are waiting and not doing anything. Just to keep everyone around us safe.”
Beaulieu, who will dive next year at Division I Fairfield University, said she hopes the Blue Knights get a chance to defend their title.
“I’m concerned about the season because it’s my senior year,” Beaulieu said. “Watching the team grow since freshman year has been amazing. Last year it was incredible to be a part of that team and we would like to get a chance to defend that title. It may not be possible this year, but I’m not super-worried. I think we will be able to figure it out.”
Perrotti, who was the Class L all-around champ, joined the team last year and wants a chance to cap her high school career on the mat before heading to Limestone University in South Carolina to compete in acrobatics and tumbling.
“I’m nervous because I just started the high school team last year and it was really fun and I want to do it again,” Perrotti said.
Chamberland said her team will be even better than last year because of its depth.
“We are stronger, for sure,” Chamberland said. “We had an interest meeting and we had about 26 girls show up that want to try out. That will be one of the biggest tryouts we’ve ever had. I’m hoping we have to have it. We have a big freshman class that wants to try out as well.”