Fall pg 1 9-3-20

caption, page 3:

Work Outs
Members of The Woodstock Academy football team work out recently on the South Campus field. Photo by Marc Allard.


The governing body of high school sports in the state, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, called the situation last week “fluid”.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the question of whether high school athletics will take place this fall has produced ever-changing, sometimes contentious answers.
The CIAC had originally said it would allow the fall season to begin including higher risk sports like football due to the contact involved and girls’ volleyball due to the fact that the sport is played indoors.
But the Connecticut Department of Health was not so agreeable recently.
It asked for a two-week period of school being in session before fall sport practices began to determine if it was safe just for students to go back to the classroom, never mind the athletic fields. It also called for football and volleyball to either be moved to the spring season or cancelled entirely.
The CIAC chose to move forward with its original plan last week and allowed high school fall sports teams, including football and volleyball, to begin “low-risk” practices and conditioning this past weekend.
It did push the proposed start of the season back a week.
The fall sports season will again be evaluated on Sept. 19 to see whether games can begin on Oct. 1.
The CIAC said that will be determined by how the state is faring with the spread of the virus and further guidance from the Department of Health.
For The Woodstock Academy, the CIAC decision meant the football, boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ cross-country and field hockey teams were on the field for the first time together this past weekend while volleyball got its first chance to work out in the gym.
“I can’t tell you that there will be games this year,” said Woodstock Academy Head of School Chris Sandford. “I can tell you that from the Academy’s perspective that we’re committed to some form of athletics even if it is just working out with (strength and conditioning) Coach (Brenden) O(staszewski). Something has to happen this year for our kids. We cannot do what we did in the spring again.”
Woodstock Academy athletic director and football coach Sean Saucier thinks the decision to move forward with all fall interscholastic athletics is the correct one.
“I think that given the metrics in the state, we can do this relatively safely,” Saucier said. “It’s not 100 percent There is always risk with playing sports but I do think for the health and wellness of our students, (athletics) is a critical component of their education.”
It has, undoubtedly, been a wild ride for school officials and student-athletes alike.
“It has been quite the roller coaster. As a coach, you get excited. There is an excitement knowing when you start and the preparation involved for the beginning of a new season. To have it in place, taken away, in place, taken away - it’s been a tough month,” Saucier added.
It was a tough decision for superintendents just to figure out how school would look this fall, never mind, athletics.
First schools were ordered by Governor Ned Lamont to open with in-person learning, that mandate has been relaxed.
Woodstock Academy, like many schools in the state, will operate on a hybrid system this fall with students learning remotely for four of the five weekdays and only coming to campus on Wednesdays for scheduled activities and extra help.
Athletics, as of now, will follow a daily practice and, later on, game schedule.
A sense of normalcy?
“I don’t think anything will be the same again and if it ever is, I think it will take time for that to happen. The anxiety that our student-athletes are facing is the same as we administrators feel every day. I still feel anxious about what it will be like to have all these kids on campus, at practice, but it’s crucial for us to take that step forward,” Sandford said.
The student-athletes are appreciative.
“It’s great to be back at the school with my teammates. We’re bonding, having fun, getting workouts in. You can’t complain about that,” said Woodstock Academy junior quarterback Ethan Davis.
It’s certainly not what it was but it’s better than the last five or six months have been.
“It’s been pretty tough. Bored. Very bored. Very anxious to do something. Now to finally get the chance to do something and, most likely, have a season – I feel great,” Davis said.
Athletics will be different this season.
Football has only six games, cross-country is scheduled to have eight meets, and most other teams 12 games.
Travel will be limited to northeastern Connecticut for the most part and that will include Ellis Tech, Windham Tech and Parish Hill which have been added to the Eastern Connecticut Conference schedule this fall.
Woodstock Academy will travel west to Windham and Lebanon for games while football is scheduled to play a game in Norwich. The only exception is field hockey which will have to travel down to the shoreline to play due to a lack of programs in northeastern Connecticut.
Due to the regionalization of play, there will be no Eastern Connecticut Conference or State tournament titles to chase.
 “I sent a letter to our head coaches, emphasizing that we have an incredible opportunity to help kids feel like themselves again and I encouraged them to keep that at the forefront of their thinking. I think kids see it as a blessing to be together, be around their friends, and I do have a lot of faith in the student-athletes to do the right thing and follow protocols so we can continue on,” Saucier said.
Until Sept. 19, teams have to work in cohorts of 10 and not as a complete unit, with little or no contact with each other.
That means coaches are going to have to be inventive.
Centaurs volleyball coach Adam Bottone said he had a lot going on in his head to try and figure out how to follow the requirements with the three levels of his program. He predicted he was going to have some “long days.”
“I think there are definitely some challenges going forward with the limitations that we have. The fact that we have a schedule is great. As of right now, the girls will be able to get out there and play and have some social interaction- that’s awesome,” said Bottone.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy


RocketTheme Joomla Templates