By Paul Augeri
Coginchaug athletes will begin preseason practices as early as Saturday – later than most schools — after the Region 13 Board of Education earlier this week gave the green light.
Districts around the state began CIAC-specific modified practices – part conditioning, part non-contact skill work in small groups – as early as last Saturday. This wasn’t the case in Durham.
RSD13 voted in favor of a resolution Aug. 19 that Coginchaug athletics would not begin practicing until after the school year commenced, in accordance with guidance from the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Thursday marked the first day of the new school year.
On Tuesday, the board gave the go-ahead for athletics to begin practicing earlier than two weeks after the start of in-person learning.
“We are going to continue to follow the guidance of the state department of public health,” Board of Education chairman Bob Moore said. “Every decision we make will be related to their decisions. We’re doing this with the health of the students in mind.”
Coginchaug’s football team, a co-op with students from Hale-Ray and East Hampton, will hold its first practice Saturday, coach Mike Eagle said.
With the DPH deeming football and volleyball to be high-risk sports in the coronavirus era, the district won’t allow games in those sports at this time. A truncated six-game football season, formulated by the CIAC, the governing body of high school athletics in Connecticut, is scheduled to begin Oct. 1. Schedules, which will be based on regionalization to minimize travel and risk, are due out some time next week.
“There is no indication that (football and volleyball) games will be played,” Coginchaug athletic director Todd Petronio said. “This follows state department of public health guidelines. There won’t be any shift to contact and team practice for those sports until all of the latest metrics and data are out.”
The CIAC and the DPH have not been aligned with when fall sports should begin and when full contact should be allowed. Petronio said district leaders have been waiting for a “clear message.”
Coginchaug’s fall teams, which include boys and girls soccer and boys and girls cross country, held conditioning workouts between July 11 and Aug. 6 under strict safety protocols put in place by the CIAC earlier this summer.
“We offered it to any fall athlete once they got screened (for coronavirus) and approved to participate,” Petronio said. “All of it was supervised by our coaches. We stressed that our coaches could provide better supervision than kids who were doing things on their own. And I believe they did.
“I was there three quarters of the time and I wholeheartedly want to report back to those above me that coaches did a good job teaching social distancing and mask wearing. Before then kids hadn’t been together that much. We laid the groundwork for being in a good position to go practice now.”