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CIAC hopes to salvage some of its spring season

Cheshire — There is hope for a spring high school sports season, but certainly no guarantee, nearly 70 state athletic and governmental leaders decided Wednesday during an online meeting.

Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference officials called cancelation of the spring season "premature" at this time, but "any plan for spring sports will need to adhere to the guidelines from the Governor's office, Department of Education and health experts regarding the potential reopening of schools to establish a specific time frame."

"We want to preserve as much as we can any possibility for our spring sports athletes to play," CAS-CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini said during a teleconference with the media. "We do so with an understanding that information can change on a daily basis. ... We'd like to encourage our kids to adhere to the guidelines of social distancing. By taking part in preventative measures, we will get back to our schools and our fields of play as soon as possible."

Lungarini said there was "no sentiment" among the online meeting representatives to cancel the season and that "everyone is hopeful."

"There is a genuine hope that kids can get something out of their season," Ledyard assistant principal/athletic director Jim Buonocore said. "There wasn't reason to cancel at this point. There is so much more out there we just don't know. I think the best-case scenario would be a late April start of practice and an early May start to competition if we do go back to school at some point."

Buonocore said the Eastern Connecticut Conference hasn't yet explored a modified schedule in all spring sports but would have such discussions if circumstances warranted.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has closed schools through at least March 31, meaning it is likely any spring season would be modified. Lungarini said CIAC and school officials on all levels are willing to get creative.

"Anything would be a consideration," Lungarini said. "We would need to consider going beyond graduation and beyond the month of June. In the past, we haven't done it, but we would not rule anything out at this point. We would be open to all consideration as to what a regular season would look like and what kind of state tournament experience we could have."

Lungarini said the CIAC would be mindful of other sports taking place beyond June, such as AAU basketball and baseball and American Legion baseball.

Lungarini emphasized the fluidity of the situation, saying the next meeting of state and government officials would happen "probably in a week or so," as information is more available.

"We will exhaust every possibility that we may have," Lungarini said. "If our schools don't return, that would be a threshold where we wouldn't be able to play. We hope students are hopeful. The primary message we want to give here is we are not canceling. We want them to be hopeful there's a spring experience and that we are working on our end to deliver that in any way possible. The best thing our students can do is to exercise the precautions around social distancing."

m.dimauro@theday.com

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