TORRINGTON — With COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon, the attitude among high school athletic directors in the Berkshire League and NVL is “Here we go again” as the start of another abbreviated sports season approaches even faster.
But wait. “Here we go again” becomes a good thing in a bad situation when these same ADs have the practice of a successful fall counterpart under their belts. They and athletes across the region look forward to a 12-game regular season in boys and girls basketball followed by league tournaments; swimming competition existing in on-site locations or in virtual meets; indoor track spending the season practicing for a potential late indoor start or outdoor track; and wrestling, like fall’s football sitting it out.
After a flurry of preseason worry about how and if similar mechanics would work in the fall proved nearly baseless, Berkshire League president Fred Williams, Northwestern’s AD, was almost blasé following a meeting with his ADs last week.
The league will follow CIAC guidelines beginning its season Feb. 8; individual school superintendents and principals will decide fan policy for their schools; swim meets for the co-ed league will be virtual, though some schools may drop out for lack of a pool; and logistics for the CIAC-mandated March 15-28 postseason league tournament in boys and girls basketball remain to be worked out.
NVL president Mike Mckenna, Torrington’s AD, and his league counterparts faced an added wrinkle in his meeting last week. Waterbury schools are closed until the end of this month.
“We just pushed off the start of the season until Feb. 16 so they would have the required 10 days practice time,” he said.
That kind of cooperation in the midst of a pandemic is the inspirational part of “Here we go again.”
“The NVL ADs are the best group in the world,” McKenna said, with echoes across the state. “If we have a conflict, we just sit down and work it out with the end goal being, ‘What’s best for the kids?’
“The best thing the CIAC did was take away the state tournaments,” McKenna said. “It takes all the pressure away.
“In scheduling, it means if one school can’t play, you just switch to another one. I told the guys, ‘You may end up playing four games against the same school.’
“We just play. When schools don’t have to worry about winning, they’re more like scrimmages. You can put kids in who might not ordinarily play.”
The NVL ADs decided to stick with their fall policy of home fans only, with a limit of two per player.
Normal league divisions will constitute eight of the regular season games with nearby crossovers in four more.
Boys and girls basketball will have two league tournaments apiece, one for the top half, one for the bottom.
Masks for basketball players? Volleyball players did it in the fall. What’s the problem?
Local sports administrators as a model for national leaders? Why not?