Photo: Keelin Daly
Many of Joe LaPrad’s friends work in healthcare. His dad works in healthcare. He has heard their stories about patients and what they have gone through while fighting COVID-19.
“If the average person saw what these patients suffer through while in the hospital, then they would be much more vigilant about their behaviors,” said LaPrad, the boys basketball coach at McMahon High in Norwalk. “It is not necessarily the healthy young people that we are most concerned about, it is what if the young, healthy student-athlete who contracts the virus is asymptomatic, then goes to visit an elderly family member.”
In a survey conducted by GameTimeCT, LaPrad was one of 29 boys basketball coaches who don’t think there will be a season this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 86 coaches responded to the survey, and they were given anonymity.
Twenty-one coaches feel the season will start on Jan. 19, when preseason practice is scheduled to begin for all winter sports at this time. Another 18 feel the season will be pushed back to start some time in February. And still another nine feel it won’t begin until either March or April.
GameTimeCT followed up with coaches to see if they wanted to provide specific reasoning for their answers as to why they didn’t think there would be a season.
“I’m just trying not to get my hopes up because I saw first-hand from friends who coach football how they were strung along before finally postponing the season. I’m cautiously optimistic, but I also see all the protocols in place as a teacher,” Seymour coach Joe Carrafiello said.
The season was originally scheduled to start preseason practice on Dec. 7, but the CIAC’s Board of Control decided in November to push the start back until Jan. 19. An update is anticipated by the Board on Jan. 7.
Coaches are not involved in the decision-making process, but a great number of coaches mentioned that they either are “cautiously optimistic” or are ”hoping” for a season of some sort, no matter their answers for the survey.
“We certainly would like to play and I certainly would like to coach this season,” said New London coach Craig Parker, who would coach year No. 27 at the school. “Having said that, I believe the timing will not work out right for a season to take place, coming off the Christmas vacation and things of that nature. The prognosis is for another (COVID) surge possibly because of the gatherings and such. I think (the CIAC) will err on the side of caution and decide not to have a season.”
Shelton coach Brian Gardiner wasn’t optimistic on a season in his survey, but since responding, the town of Shelton, which is in full-remote learning, is planning a possible return to in-person learning on Jan. 11.
“There is a lot of concern right now since the rates are higher than in the fall. And with schools being out on full-distance learning, coupled with the higher positivity rates, I wasn’t optimistic about a season. However, if schools are going to return in January, I think there is a chance we play.”
Five other coaches voted there would be a season, but did not list a start date while four others said they had no idea whether a season would be held or not.
LaPrad believes kids need that outlet of some kind of activity. He suggested either skiing or cross-country skiing.
“Like always, we need to adapt and find new avenues to do those (sports or activities) that are safe,” LaPrad said. “There are many ways that kids can be social and active while at the same time reassuring their safety.”
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