Now that the Department of Health and CIAC Board of Control have each cleared the way for districts to begin practicing for winter sports, with a start date for competition as early as Feb. 8, the work falls on conferences to make sure everyone is prepared to play.
The guidance from the CIAC and DPH calls for 12 regular-season games or meets, with competition taking place within leagues. Exceptions in hockey, gymnastics and swimming could be made, but geographic locations must be considered.
FCIAC Commissioner Dave Schulz said schedules won’t be finalized until the first week of February because the league is waiting to see which districts will be allowed to play.
The FCIAC will play with two divisions this season, not the three it had in the fall. The breakdown will be determined once districts disclose their plans. Schultz said there will be an FCIAC tournament, but the format has yet to be determined.
Stamford Superintendent Tamu Lucero informed student-athletes and their families Friday through a letter that the school district would only permit small group conditioning and skill building for the next two weeks, through the end of January, due to an upward trend of COVID-19 infections.
A letter to Barlow students and families said the SWC hoped to have schedules released as early as next week. The letter stated principals in the SWC voted to prohibit fans from visiting teams to attend athletic events. Barlow will allow two family members of each student-athlete to attend home games.
SCC Commissioner Al Carbone said he expects to hear from all 23 member schools by the end of the day Monday regarding when they plan to begin practicing. The SCC has a scheduling committee meeting Tuesday.
Carbone said he doesn’t expect any of his schools to opt out of having a season due to COVID-19. In fact, Carbone dislikes the use of those words.
“We don’t use that term. Either you take a schedule or you don’t,” Carbone said. “I’ve received dozens of texts, calls and emails from our ADs and principals. No one has related that type of thinking as of today.”
Carbone expects varsity schedules to be approved by next Friday. He has to check in with the member schools to see how many will also be conducting freshman and JV programs.
Once the league’s principals and athletic directors meet, it is Carbone’s hope that every team will qualify for postseason play regardless of sport. But that final determination will be made by vote by each sport.
The SCC’s boys and girls basketball schedules are normally based on the previous two years of league play. This season won’t be used as a determining factor for next season’s schedule because it is just a 12-game, regular-season schedule.
Also, Carbone said the league came up with a four-division alignment proposal for both sports in October in case it would have to be placed in regions again. Carbone said it could be one league champion for basketball, or it could be two or four champions, to be determined.
“We will have those discussions and get everyone’s feedback on it,” Carbone said.
The SCC and SWC will remain aligned in hockey and crown league champions in three divisions. Girls ice hockey has seven teams and will have one champion.
It is anticipated that boys swimming in the SCC will be all virtual meets. The sport will remain a two-division format with Shelton playing a hybrid regular-season schedule.
Gymnastics has just five teams and will have its championship meet likely virtually to determine its champion.
Carbone said going through a COVID season in the fall can only help with doing so again this winter.
“It helps that everybody is on the same page. We have to be flexible, knowing that things may change at the drop of a hat. We have to adjust and change. Everybody in our league agreed to this last summer,” Carbone said.