Sports training is likely at Wilton High School
WILTON — With the state Department of Public Health and the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) in apparent sync on at least pre-season training, Wilton school officials are trying to get conditioning activities underway for fall sports.
“We’re just eager to get started,” Chris McDougal, athletic director at Wilton High School, told the Board of Education Thursday night.
“We have 523 kids eager to go out on the field,” he said.
Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith presented Barrington Bogle, Wilton’s director of health, with a plan prepared in cooperation with McDougal, seeking Bogle’s blessing to move forward.
“Barry has made an initial review (and) he came back with a number of questions,” Smith said, noting he and McDougal would try to meet with Bogle on Friday to provide answers.
“Our hope is that we can get Barry’s approval so we can begin conditioning activities with all our fall sports,” Smith said, though nothing would likely start before Sept. 8 — the first day students are in school under the hybrid model.
A barrage of public comment preceded Thursday night’s meeting, including written statements from the senior team captains of the Warriors football team.
“It would be detrimental to our players lives if football was canceled,” the captains wrote.
“As seniors, most of us have been playing this sport together since third grade and have been looking forward to the senior year as long as we can remember,” they wrote.
“In reality there is risk involved in just about every activity these days,” they wrote, noting they’ve proven over the last few weeks they “can participate in football in a responsible manner.”
Parents of the senior team captains also chimed in in a joint statement.
“The current situation is potentially more harmful than the virus … more likely to harm these student athletes than the coronavirus,” they wrote, citing the emotional roller coaster their sons have had to experience with changing restrictions.
“Our numbers have been good for months,” they wrote. “Other sports have played successfully without consequence.”
Other parents also spoke out for other fall sports, including several advocates of girls volleyball.
“The reality is there are inconsistent and conflicting policies across the state and even in our town,” said parent Jennifer Bell, noting there are private volleyball operations actively training students.
“It will be safer to have our girls playing volleyball in their high school cohort,” she said.
“Volleyball should not be singled out simply because it is an indoor sport,” said parent Robin Allen, comparing it to soccer or field hockey.
“It is easier to socially distance in volleyball,” she said.
Smith said some safety measures are baked into the state health department’s support of starting conditioning, including restricting athlete cohort size to 10 and doing as much as possible out of doors.
Asked directly by one board member if Wilton would be playing football in the fall, Smith and Chair Deborah Low were clear that this was just the first step and it was too early to say.
Low said that while she understood “the roller coaster that sports are going through, it is still one step at a time.”
“I don’t want to create a false sense of anything,” she said.
“The good news about sports is it did seem the Connecticut Department of Health and CIAC at least agreed on the conditioning piece,” Low said.