CIAC announces student winter sports to begin Jan. 19

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CHESHIRE. Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) announced Thursday that school winter sports may begin on Jan. 19.

In a plan released on Thursday, which was created with the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s (DPH) guidelines, the CIAC said low, moderate, and high-risk winter sports will be able to practice starting Jan. 19, unless determined otherwise. Games begin on or after Monday, Feb. 8.

Per DPH guidelines, CIAC’s low-risk winter sport is swimming. Moderate risk sports are basketball, ice hockey, gymnastics and indoor track. High risk winter sports include wrestling, competitive cheer and competitive dance.

For high risk sports, officials do not recommend any activities beyond small group conditioning and non-contact skill building for the whole season.

Officials want all participants to wear masks. Players and officials are encouraged to change masks as needed during timeouts, mask breaks or game stoppages.

Teams can play 12 games in girls and boys basketball, boys ice hockey, girls gymnastics and boys swimming. They will have a league level postseason from March 15-28. However, there will be no CIAC State Championship Tournaments.

Boys and girls indoor track teams will be limited to practice with indoor/outdoor meets no earlier than March.

While the CIAC gave the go-ahead to the winter sports season, they decided not to go forward with spring football. The DPH considers football a high risk sport. With metrics low in the fall, the season was kicked down the road in the guise of an alternate season. But the players and coaches got hit where it hurts when the news came down that the alternate season was out.

Read the full plan below:

A lot of reaction coming in about the CIAC’s winter sports plan. Players and coaches crushed by the decision.

Thursday we spoke with the coach of the East Haven High School wrestling team Mark Tolla. He said the kids are devastated that they won’t be able to compete.

“The dedication, time and effort they put into the sport are pretty much unmatched from what I’ve seen as compared to even some other sports. And to have that taken away is a tragedy, it’s unfortunate and my heart bleeds for these kids…Especially my seniors, who’ve been with me for four years, and they’ll never reach their dreams because of the decision that was made today.”

Gunner Horton, an East Haven senior who already missed out on a football season, now won’t be able to wrestle either.

“Two of my sports, they’re just gone. It’s like a chunk of you, they just like disappear. What do I do? I’m used to going to wrestling, hanging out, having two-hour practices, and having fun, and now it’s just Saturday, what do you do? You just lose. You just lose yourself.”

AJ Robinson on the Branford High School wrestling team said, “Wrestling, it’s a sport that will teach you life lessons. It’s all lessons that you’ll carry for the rest of your lives, and for some people they need to have wrestling to teach them things, and to help them get through hard times, to help them get through life. And just for the sport to be taken away especially for the seniors, it’s really tough.”

These athletes say they hope they can wrestle in the spring, but they don’t want to get their hopes up and be disappointed again.

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