In March, everything came to a halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the high school basketball playoffs.
“It was hard,” said Windsor sophomore Troy McKoy Jr.
“I honestly didn’t believe it when I heard it,” said Bloomfield junior Lake McLean.
After months without the opportunity to play, community leaders Chris Prescott and Steven Samuels, who work to train and empower young athletes, founded a league to provide kids with some of the experiences they lost.
“I felt so bad that the season for these kids ended so abruptly and we wanted to give a safe platform where they can go ahead, play and be active,” said Samuels, co-founder of ImpaCT Training.
Knowing that being outdoors is safer, they organized a high school league and a middle school league on the brand new, resurfaced courts at Rockwell Park in Bloomfield.
“The majority of people that don’t have masks, we were passing out masks,” said Prescott, co-founder of ImpaCT Training.
However, after a few weeks, they identified a major problem.
“The demand was way higher than we expected,” said Prescott.
More spectators attended the games than they planned to accommodate. As a result, Prescott and Samuels chose to adapt.
“We’ve got an obligation to keep people safe and keep the participants safe and their families safe and we just couldn’t check off all those boxes outside,” said Prescott.
They worked with the town to find a new indoor venue for the league. All games are now played on one court at the Bloomfield Rec Center. Temperature checks and masks are mandatory at the door and there is a limit on how many people are allowed in the gym.
“We have a 30-minute gap in between games that helps us sanitize and also direct parents,” said Samuels.
With all of the challenges everyone has faced over the past five months, Prescott and Samuels feel that it’s even more important now to be role models for young athletes.
“We want to teach them to be community leaders,” said Prescott. “It means a lot to us to provide that platform.”