Winter Sports Start with Modifications in Place
Updated: Mar 25
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) allowed winter sports to take place starting on Jan. 19, as originally planned.
The conference held a meeting on Jan. 14 to discuss the fate of the season and concluded that COVID-19 numbers were low enough to have practices take place. However, like the previous season, there will be many changes.
Boys swimming and diving, girls basketball, boys basketball, girls ice hockey, boys ice hockey and gymnastics will be allowed a maximum of 12 regular season games that may start Feb. 8. No more than two games per week are allowed for each team.
Other sports that are considered more high risk will have to sit out from competitions this year due to safety regulations. Competitive cheerleading, competitive dance and wrestling are all considered high risk according to the State Department of Health and are only allowed to practice this season. Additionally, practices for these sports will only consist of small group conditioning and non-contact skill building.
Kody Fong, a junior on the diving team, said he felt that the changes were mentally harmful on the team.
“One of the biggest changes for us was the new COVID-19 restriction that requires divers to stand six feet apart while waiting in line [to dive]” said Fong. “Prior to this season, the divers would often chat amongst one another . . . we would all huddle around the board in order to hear what each other had to say over the loud kicking from the swimmers. However, now with this new rule imposed, I have noticed that my teammates haven’t been talking as much.”
Girls and boys indoor track and field will not have any meets for most of February due to the large amount of people required to be indoors. Even though running and throwing events are considered low risk, jumping events such as pole vault, long jump and high jump are considered moderate risk and would not be safe to practice indoors.
Four virtual meets have been considered. If these take place, they will be outside and won't begin until Feb. 22.
Tabby Cook, a junior on the track team, talked about how different the season looks this year.
“We have to wear masks; we have to social distance,” she said. “Different groups have to come on different days of the week to minimize potential spreading." Groups are chosen by what events each person competes in.
Like Fong, Cook explained how the new rules make it harder to connect with teammates.
“I know that this is all stuff that is necessary for people to remain safe, but it definitely takes a bit of the fun out. As a jumper and sprinter, I can’t really see my distance friends as much.”
The track team is allowed two practices a week per cohort, which is divided by events each person competes in. Starting the week of Feb. 1, this will be bumped up to three practices a week.
One major change for this season compared to the fall is that masks are required to be worn at all times. Even when athletes are actively exercising, they cannot take off their masks. The only exception for this is swimming and diving as masks cannot be worn in the water. However, they do have to be worn on deck.
Cook said the masks are not actually that bad.
“They’re a little annoying to wear, and they get very damp while we’re running, which makes it even harder to breathe with them on,” she said. “Although, as long as you aren’t wearing a thick cotton mask or something like that, it’s mostly fine, and, if someone needs to take a break to breathe with your mask off, they can easily walk a safe distance away from the group to do so.”
No state championships will be held this year due to safety concerns, however CIAC will be allowing a “postseason experience,” which will be made up of multiple conference tournaments. It is not clear when exactly this will happen considering CIAC still isn’t sure about when the actual season will end, although it will most likely take place in the end of March or early April.
When asked how she felt about all of this change, sophomore Nina Clark, a member of the girls ice hockey team, said, “Despite this [the changes], I’m very grateful that we are able to have a season at all. It’s been great being able to get back on the ice and have practices again and I’m looking forward to games starting.”
While many are disappointed that the season is going to look different from usual, athletes are excited to finally be able to see their teammates again after the pause.
In the words of Clark, “Although we’ve had to make adjustments to be able to play this year, it’s definitely worth it!”