Friday night was supposed to be Cheshire’s first game of the season. Instead, the field is empty. But every player and every team across the state is hoping for a chance to play.
For the Cheshire Rams, it’s another night of practice, and still, no one knows where it’ll lead.
“Obviously our hopes for our senior year, just to come out and play. A lot of guys have been playing together their whole lives,” said Cheshire Football Captain Nick Didomizio.
Didomizio and Chisom Okoro, who is also a Cheshire football captain, have been playing football together for about ten years. In their final year at Cheshire, all their hard work collided with a canceled season.
“My heart kind of dropped when we heard it. It was just like they’re taking part of me away,” said Okoro.
And hopes for a new decision coming out of a meeting Friday morning with the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, Governor Lamont’s staff and the Department of Public Health were crushed as well. The CIAC submitted new plans to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 including masks during games, limiting the number of players on the sidelines, and limiting kickoffs and punts. But DPH further limited expectations by saying an evaluation will take time.
“The idea of pushing high-risk sports off until we have better data about whether these strategies will work is a good idea,” said Dr. Deidre Gifford, acting commissioner of DPH.
A delay to spring is something both Cheshire football captains support because, for everyone involved, this is far more than just a game.
“The lessons that you learn, the discipline, the work ethic. It’s definitely carried over into everyday life in the classroom,” said Didomizio.
For some, this canceled season directly impacts future opportunities. Okoro is hoping to play football in college, and his senior year on the field is a critical one.
“It can jeopardize the way my college decision works out in the end because without a season, I definitely can’t have more film in order to go to a better school or the schools I want to go to,” said Okoro.
Parents like Tony Didomizio say these young athletes have followed the rules and are willing to follow any other protocols put in place. He said they deserve a chance to play.
“At least give these kids a chance to prove they can do it correctly. They’ve done it correctly so far. Give us a shot,” said Didomizio.