Updated, Aug. 26, 11:30 p.m.
Fall preseason practices are scheduled to begin on Saturday and will include both 11-on-11 football and girls volleyball indoors, the CIAC indicated in its updated fall sports plan Wednesday night.
Non-contact skill work and conditioning will be a part of the preseason practices as previously indicated following Sunday night’s Board of Control meeting.
The start of the regular season has officially been pushed back a week to Oct. 1. The CIAC updated its fall sports plan late Wednesday night.
CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini declined comment when reached Wednesday night. CIAC football committee chairman Harry Bellucci did not respond to a phone call seeking comment, but he did tell the Hartford Courant football was on.
“As of now, football is a full go,” Bellucci told the Courant. “We are playing fall football until someone tells us we can’t.
The CIAC is holding a press conference Thursday morning at 10:30.
“It’s great news. It’s exciting,” said Southington coach Mike Drury, who was told football was a go by the CIAC’s committee members. “The kids see it, they’re fired up. I’m thrilled they made a decision with the kids’ best interest in mind. We think the right decision.”
However, the Connecticut Department of Health continues to maintain its recommendations for both football and girls volleyball. Its recommendation for football is to play 7-on-7 to eliminate both line play and tackling. The DPH recommends girls volleyball to be held outdoors this season.
While the CIAC is allowing training for all sports over the next month, the fall plan states that the CIAC continues to “seek clarification” with the DPH on what it says are inconsistencies with those recommendations and seeks “an understanding” from the DPH on its use of COVID data to support its position on football and volleyball.
The CIAC also says playing outdoor volleyball “is not feasible for our member schools,” citing the lack of adequate facilities, inclement weather and losing high school players to indoor volleyball club programs.
Teams will be required to remain in cohorts of 10 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This cohort requirement must remain through Sept. 20. On Sept. 21, there is potential to go to full team practices.
The new plan is contingent on weekly COVID-19 metrics. The CIAC will make a determination on whether it will be appropriate to move to “high risk” activities like contact football practices and indoor volleyball.
With this new plan in place, Hillhouse coach Reggie Lytle, whose program has its season postponed indefinitely by New Haven’s Health Department based of the state DPH’s recommendations, said he and Wilbur Cross coach John Aquavita planned to appeal to the city to have their seasons reinstated.
New Haven and Bridgeport are two of Connecticut’s cities that shut down their fall sports programs. Bridgeport canceled football and volleyball while New Haven shut down all fall sports.
“This is ridiculous. There are lots of people I’m disappointed in,” he said, singling out the CIAC, and the Department of Health for “playing politics with the kids.”
“Me and Aquavita, we’re going to meet tomorrow and see what other ways we can talk to the (New Haven) Health Department and Mayor (Justin Elicker) to see what we can do.”
Discussion about athletics has been on the agenda for several boards of education over the past couple of weeks, with many of them delaying any potential action until the CIAC’s final decision.
Regional School District 13, whose high school is Coginchaug, passed a resolution at a special meeting last week that supported the state Department of Public Health’s then-current guidance, delaying practices until school was open. The board also urged that football and volleyball be pushed to the spring.
The board held its regular meeting — online, like most recent meetings, because of the pandemic — on Wednesday night and took no further action, expecting further word from the CIAC and DPH by the end of the week. The board expected to hold a special meeting to discuss the situation regardless of the decision.
Several public speakers identifying themselves as coaches, parents and players called into Wednesday’s remote meeting to urge the board to let the team play in the fall if the CIAC allowed.
“I can tell you right now, having a 17-year-old child who has gone through this terrible, unprecedented situation, I worry about the mental status of all of these kids if we pull that away from them in addition to everything else we’ve pulled away from them,” said Rich Murphy, who identified himself as a parent of a senior player.
“If the CIAC decides not to play football in the fall, then I can accept that decision because then nobody plays football in the fall, and we’re not putting these kids in a situation where they’re looking at other kids, their peers, playing football but they’re not.”
Athletics was on Shelton’s agenda for Wednesday night’s meeting and is on Wilton’s for Thursday. Region 14, which includes Nonnewaug, said on Aug. 18 that all fall sports were postponed in the region.
— With additional reporting from Sean Patrick Bowley and Michael Fornabaio.