Due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fairchester Athletic Association has decided to cancel conference competition for the fall sports season it announced Wednesday in a statement it released on its website.
The Fairchester Athletic Association includes 11 teams, eight of which are based in Connecticut. Brunswick School, Greens Farms Academy, Greenwich Academy, Hamden Hall Country Day, Hopkins School, King School, Sacred Heart Greenwich, St. Luke’s School and Greenwich Country Day School are the schools from the state in the FAA.
Rye Country Day School (Rye, N.Y.) and School of the Holy Child (Rye, N.Y.) also compete in the FAA.
According to the FAA’s statement, the manner in which different schools plan to reopen played a role in the conference’s decision to cancel interscholastic conference play in the fall.
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the differing return to school plans and academic models for our member schools, it is with a heavy heart that we share that Fairchester Athletic Association (FAA) conference competition for fall sports has been canceled for 2020,” the release stated. “This includes FAA regular season and tournament championships.
“The FAA and its member schools recognize the importance of athletics within each of our communities, and are collectively committed to providing a positive and robust athletic experience while prioritizing the health and safety of our student-athletes and entire school population.”
The FAA’s fall sports include: boys and girls soccer, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country and field hockey.
Each year, the FAA season has started in early September and concluded in mid-November.
“Throughout the summer, the Fairchester Athletic Association member schools have been meeting to discuss the ability to offer a safe and high quality athletic season; working to create opportunities for meaningful team experiences within the context of the guidelines provided by the States of Connecticut and New York,” the FAA’s release stated.
“I think it is challenging for the players, we experienced this kind of loss in the spring,” Greenwich Academy Athletic Director Martha Brousseau said. “We we left school on March 12 and everything became virtual, which was a big challenge. All of the FAA schools have a different kind of return to school plan, so it’s tough to get the teams playing.”
In the FAA’s statement, it left open the possibility of its schools still having some type of athletic competition this fall.
“The decision to cancel conference competition does not preclude individual institutions from scheduling interscholastic opportunities between and among schools, if able,” the statement read.
Therefore, FAA schools can still schedule games against each other at some point during the season, but they would not count toward their record or any type of conference standings. Also, that’s all contingent as to when each school returns to in-school learning and if schools feel comfortable playing each other. Travel/schedule arrangements will also play a factor should teams decide to compete against each other in “friendly” type games.
Greenwich Academy field hockey coach Jamie Brower has several players on her squad that also play lacrosse at the school. They also saw their spring lacrosse season get canceled.
“Anytime anything like this happens, the kids come to mind, that is your first thought,” Brower said. As a coach hopefully, we’ll be back next year, but every year it is some classes’ last year on the team. We are in a lucky position, where most of the rising seniors on our team are committed to play field hockey or lacrosse somewhere. So, it isn’t the last athletic chapter for them.”
Hopkins athletic director Rocco DeMaio, the President of the FAA, said on his school’s website: “The decision to cancel conference competition does not preclude individual institutions from scheduling interscholastic opportunities, such as scrimmages, between and among schools, if able. As guidelines from the CDC and the Connecticut’s Department of Health evolve, we will continually evaluate these possibilities.”
In terms of football, Brunswick, Hamden Hall, King and St. Luke’s each play in leagues that are part of the NEPSAC, so the prospect of their respective seasons is uncertain.
The NEPSAC’s Founders League announced it was cancelling conference athletic competition for its fall season last week.
The NEPSAC is expecting to announce a decision on its fall sports season soon. Brunswick, Sacred Heart, Greens Farms, Hamden Hall, Hopkins, St. Luke’s, King, Holy Child, Greenwich Academy, Rye Country Day School and Greenwich Country Day, also compete against NEPSAC Schools.
Hopkins’ football team plays in the Metropolitan Independent Football League, which also announced the cancellation of its fall season.
“The Athletics Department at Hopkins, however, will offer a skills development and conditioning program this fall for athletes, as well as a range of classes for students who prefer an informal physical fitness option,” DeMaio said on the school’s website. “For each of our athletic offerings, we will create ‘Play It Safe Plans’ to outline sport-specific health and safety protocols. These plans are under development and will be shared with families in mid August.”
Brower said she hopes her squad experiences some type of athletic competition during the fall.
“Being able to compete against other schools in any sort of realm will be a thrill,” Brower said. “If it doesn’t happen, I understand. There is so much that is unknown right now. As we get more information, all fall coaches are in the mindset of, just tell us what the parameters are and we would make it as best as we for the kids. It will mean us being more creative.”
Brunswick’s lone FAA team in the fall is its cross country squad, which draws a lot of athletes each year.
“We are going to train as normal, it doesn’t mean we can’t have races, just no FAA championship,” Brunswick Athletic Director Ron VanBelle said. “If any teams have races we can send our team. Our plan is to keep these kids busy in all sports and give them opportunities to train and and figure out ways to make the best of a tough situation.”