STONINGTON — After a Wednesday morning meeting, athletic officials in Connecticut decided it would be premature to cancel the high school spring sports season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Stonington High athletic director and ECC league president Bryan Morrone and ECC Commissioner Gary Makowicki participated in the online meeting.
“These are unprecedented challenges for our schools, and it is of the utmost importance that we provide answers and a structure to support our membership and maintain the possibility of a spring sports experience for our student-athletes,” CAS-CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini said in a news release. “CIAC understands the value of providing students a spring sports experience, if possible. However, the health and safety of our communities must remain at the center of our decision making.”
Student-athletes in Connecticut have been idle since postseason tournaments for winter sports were canceled on March 10 because of the coronavirus, a respiratory disease that has spread across the country. The state closed schools on March 13, putting spring sports in limbo.
Morrone is still hopeful a spring sports season can take place.
"For the sake of the senior class, they could be missing proms and other things, it would be nice to give them a 10-game schedule," Morrone said.
Morrone said there was no discussion of establishing a deadline for when practice would have to begin to start a spring season. It was ultimately decided to forego setting that date.
"In the end, we kind of agreed not to establish any dates," Morrone said. "There is just so much that could change. Some schools in New York and Massachusetts are closed until late April. Connecticut is working on two-week windows."
Wheeler High athletic director Ellen Turner agreed with the CIAC decision.
"I was in favor of delaying any decision," Turner said. "I've got a Division I baseball player sitting on my couch who just had his season taken away from him. I see the damage that does and I don't want that to happen to anyone at Wheeler."
Turner's son, Ken, was in the midst of his freshman season at the University of Hartford.
CIAC regulations require that athletes practice for 10 days before the season begins. Morrone said there was some discussion of modifying or waiving that requirement.
"Some were concerned about the concept of rushing students that might have been sedentary for a month and a half," Morrone said. "They are going to talk with doctors they work with and see what they can do safely.
"I think it could be different depending upon the sport. I think you could have a day or two of practice for golf, but you would not want to do that for lacrosse. I don't think it makes sense to have some run a race, like an 800 or 400, after just a few days [of practice].
"We've also talked about pushing the state tournaments to the end of June, past graduation."
Like Morrone, Turner is hopeful some sort of season can be played.
"For two of our seniors, Bowen Baker and Scott Pion this is their time of the year. These are the sports they like the most and the ones they excel at."
Baker will play baseball at Fairfield next season; Pion will play lacrosse at Post University.
Morrone said he expects 20-30 Stonington students will not have the physical necessary for spring sports and that could be an issue with most physicians only treating the most serious cases. Turner said that is less of an issue at Wheeler since many students play multiple sports.
Both schools have been closed indefinitely and will not open for at least another seven schools day. Students will likely be out of school much longer.
In Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Wednesday that public schools will be closed through April 3.
"Some coaches are throwing out video workouts. We have taken a strong stance that there should be no group meetings outside of school," Morrone said. "It’s only going slow down the possible hope of having a spring season."
Morrone said he expects another online meeting will take place around March 30 to reassess the situation.