While championship banners hang on the walls of East Catholic High School’s gymnasium, its basketball court has been quiet for months. With word today though, that basketball will resume, the reigning state champs, who were also ranked first in the state when last season was halted, are thrilled.
“Everybody was ecstatic,” said head coach Luke Reilly. “You know the seniors, they’re in a position now where they’ll be able to put the uniform on again.”
Not just basketball families but those of all winter sport athlete have been holding their breath for months, hoping their sports would be allowed to compete. Thursday they finally got word as the CIAC outlined its plan for the coming season. Some sports will be allowed to compete while others will be limited to practice and conditioning.
In addition to basketball, girls’ gymnastics and boys’ swimming are also permitted to compete, along with boys’ ice hockey.
“It’s probably the best news I’ve gotten in a long time,” said Hand High School hockey player John Gagliardi. “Just getting the call and feeling goosebumps and feeling relieved that our group would be getting back on the ice.”
Competitive games will not begin until February 8 with seasons being limited to 12 games. But those involved are just happy to compete.
“I’m more grateful as a coach,” said Hand High School hockey coach Brian Gonsalves. “I think every program is going to be just so excited to be back.”
During this abbreviated season all participants, coaches, and officials will require a mask that must be worn at all times, including during active play.
“Whatever form it takes we are ecstatic to be back on the court,” said Reilly.
Another caveat to this abbreviated season is that there will be no state championship play this year. However, league championships can be conducted from March 15 – 28.
Not all winter sports though have been granted an opportunity to compete.
Wrestling, along with competitive dance and competitive cheer, will be limited to small group conditioning and non-contact skill building.
“I am still sad that (competition) is not going to happen. But I do understand why and for a good reason as to why,” said Elias Sturdevant, a 16-year-old wrestler who competes for Woodland Regional High School.
While competitive cheer and dance are not being allowed, sideline cheer may continue without lifts or stunts and participants need to wear masks and remain six feet apart.
Indoor track has also been affected. Teams will be limited to practice with indoor / outdoor meets considered no earlier than March. Ellington High school coach Adam Zylberman said he’s encouraged by the news, after presuming the season would be canceled completely.
“To find out that we have a chance to get together with the kids and practice it was something better than what I was anticipating,” said Zylberman.
Although there is the possibility of track meets beginning in March, there is the question of facilities. There are very few available in the state for indoor competition. But Zylberman sid that doesn’t mean they won’t try to get creative, if they’re allowed to, come March.
“We call it indoor track but really it’s winter track,” said Zylberman, “So, there’s nothing against us going on an outdoor track and trying to compete.”