New Haven will be able to start holding non-contact skill development practices for boys and girls soccer and girls volleyball, New Haven citywide athletic director Erik Patchkofsky confirmed on Thursday.
Patchkofsky said Maritza Bond, the city’s director of public health, sent an email out on Wednesday afternoon that soccer practice could proceed — in cohorts of 10 as currently allowed by the CIAC.
“Volleyball can be played as long as modifications are approved by the sports medicine committee,” Patchkofsky said.
Although the state DPH has advocated for girls volleyball to be played outdoors, the CIAC is proceeding with indoor practices as long as the players wear masks.
“I’m encouraged that our athletes have the opportunity to be able to compete and I am determined to make sure that our programs and our athletes follow all state protocols to keep our kids safe and to keep our programs up and running, as long as the (COVID) metrics say its is allowable,” Patchkofsky said.
Patchkofsky said he planned to meet with all of the soccer and volleyball coaches virtually on Friday with non-contact skill development to begin as soon as Monday.
“They all have something they loved taken away from them. What I have told them is, ‘You need to enjoy every moment, nothing is guaranteed,’” said Brian Grindrod, the Wilbur Cross girls soccer coach.
The regular season for all CIAC sports is scheduled to begin on Oct. 1.
“This is good news for the student-athletes in these sports,” SCC commissioner Al Carbone said. “We are in the process of developing the fall schedules. They hopefully will be finalized in the next week or so.”
The city’s DPH had determined back on Aug. 14 that all games and practices would not be held for high- to moderate-risk sports, which included both boys and girls soccer and girls volleyball.
The city had permitted preseason conditioning to continue for all of those sports, but no physical contact. Practices are currently being held for girls swimming and both boys and girls cross country.
Wilbur Cross and the Career/Hillhouse co-op have both boys and girls soccer varsity programs while Cross, Hillhouse and Career all have varsity girls volleyball programs.
Grindrod said that a couple of his players were instead going to choose to run cross country once soccer was not going to be played. He expects to see participation in the sport rise with this bit of good news.
“I’m thrilled they have the opportunity. I wanted our kids to have the same opportunity as everyone else,” Grindrod said. “Look at what happened with football (the CIAC canceled the fall season for full-contact, 11 on 11 last Friday). This could change at any time.”
Said Patchkofsky: “One thing I stressed in notifying the kids is this is very fluid based on metrics. The DPH’s stance could change. We are prepared to do whatever it takes to follow any guidance from DPH so our kids are safe. We will follow all rules and regulations.”