The CIAC made a very unpopular decision on Tuesday, March 10 when they cancelled all of the winter postseason tournaments. This brought an abrupt end to the season for the Plainville boys swim team that was slated to compete at the Class S state meet on Wednesday March 18.
“It’s a frustrating situation,” said Plainville head coach Chris Zagorski. “Of course we understand why this needed to be done, but it’s still heartbreaking, especially for the seniors involved.”
It also brought to a close the final season of the WMRP co-op hockey team. The Wethersfield-Middletown-Rocky Hill-Plainville Eagles compiled a 20-3 record winning the South Region CCC regular season title and recently captured the CCC championship for the first time and was a favorite to get back to Ingalls Rink on the Yale campus for the third year in a row at the Div II semi-finals.
“The seniors worked really hard and to have it all taken away like this, it’s just heart breaking,” said Zagorski. “It’s a tough situation for everyone.”
A decision of this magnitude was unavoidable due to growing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. However the initial reaction had many feeling this unprecedented decision could have been avoided or at least other options could have been made available.
There was talk of playing games in empty gyms without fans, playing with limited fans or postponing the tournaments to a later date in the spring.
In the end CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini, after consulting with school districts and officials, determined it would be unsafe to continue the winter tournaments. Lungarini and his staff had few options when different school districts came forward stating that fans would not be permitted to attend the games and others advising the board they would no longer host the games.
A protest the following day occurred when hundreds of students, athletes, fans and coaches descended on the CIAC headquarters in Cheshire to voice their disapproval of the decision to cancel all the winter tournaments.
Some tournaments had just gotten underway while the girls basketball tournament had already reached the quarterfinals. The protest was to no avail, and it didn’t sway the mind of the CIAC officials.
“Right from the beginning I understood why they had to make this kind of decision,” said Zagorski. “As frustrating as it is coming from a coaches perspective, I never questioned the rational of the decision because the bottom line is the safety of the kids.”
By weeks end the CIAC decision was almost an afterthought as the NCAA cancelled the basketball tournaments and the remainder of the spring season for all sports and all major professional sports had come to a standstill. The NBA and NHL have cancelled the remainder of their seasons and Major League Baseball has cancelled the rest of spring training and the beginning of the regular season has been put on hold.
The Plainville swim team was looking forward to continuing their progression of success in the states. The Blue Devils had a streak of three straight seasons where they have seen improvement going from 20th place in Class S in 2017, to 18th place in 2018 and 15th place in 2019,
Eight swimmers had already qualified for the state meet the most since head coach Chris Zagorski took over the team eight years ago. Five swimmers had qualified in multiple events and Plainville was looking to break into the top ten in the Class S division.
“I don’t know if this can serve as a motivation for the returning swimmers heading into next year,” said Zagorksi. “It’s a lesson to them that you can’t take anything for granted. No one saw something like this coming but it goes to show you that you never know what can happen.”
“That is why you need to give it everything you have because there may not be a second chance. You have to make the best of your opportunities and hopefully this serves as a motivation.”
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