Under normal circumstances, the story lines heading into the 2021 high school winter sports season would be sort of sparse.
There’s only one new coach in the Record-Journal coverage area. That’s Angelica Ariola with Cheshire girls basketball.
There’s only one “new” team. That’s Lyman Hall hockey, which is once again independent and no longer a co-op with Haddam-Killingworth and Coginchaug.
It was a move dictated by roster numbers, one that was in the pipeline before the pandemic upended everything else in the landscape.
And it is the pandemic, of course, that has sportswriters chasing down 100 leads and athletic directors tending 101 details on the eve of the season.
102: They grow by the minute.
“OK, take a deep breath,” Southington AD Steve Risser said upon getting on the phone with the R-J on Monday evening. “What a day. We’re trying to get everything ready. It’s been one thing after another. We just got off a meeting with the boys swimmers.”
With the green light given by the CIAC Board of Control last Thursday, Connecticut’s scholastic sports teams — with the exception of high-risk wrestling — have the go-ahead to start practice Tuesday in preparation for an abbreviated season that can begin on Feb. 8.
That’s three weeks for teams to get regrouped after two months of inactivity, for athletes to get accustomed to competing in masks and for coaches to get as familiar with COVID-19 protocols as their team’s press-break offense.
Actually, even more familiar.
“The protocols are coming and we are going to freaking hammer them,” as Southington boys basketball coach John Cessario said. “Let me be