Wednesday, September 22, 2021

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Letter: Staples Footballers Want to Play

Editor’s Note: WestportNow rarely publishes letters to third parties, but makes an exception for this one from the Staples football captains to state representatives:

Dear Westport Town Representatives:

As the 2020 captains of the Staples High School football team, we are asking you to appeal directly to Governor Lamont for the reinstatement of 11 v 11 tackle football this fall.

We specifically request that Governor Lamont have the Department of Public Health and CIAC collaborate in the creation of a plan incorporating appropriate protocols that will permit live games safely this fall.

The decision to cancel high school football has already negatively impacted the close to 10,000 Connecticut students who have the privilege to play high school football. We ask that you consider the long-term emotional, mental and physical risks to these students if football is not played, especially in light of the State’s extremely low transmission rate.

CIAC Votes to Restart Conditioning

Conducting conditioning and sport specific skill work as non-contact and in small cohorts is classified as low risk regardless of the sport.

The Board of Control has determined that any fall sport that is canceled will not be played at a later time during the 2020-2021 school year. 

“The CIAC will work this week to finalize the timeline of full team activities and contest play,” the announcement said.

As it has done through this entire process, the board will continue to monitor the situation and the plan will remain fluid, it said.

Fall Sports Practices Causing Concern

State recommendations are to postpone sports — including practices and conditioning — until at least two weeks after the reopening of in-person instruction.

Kleine said practices have already been taking place in at least one fall sport in Westport — namely football — but there has been no discussion how this plays into to the reopening plans.

“I want to make sure we’re being consistent with what we’re doing in school and what we’re doing for our kids who play sports and then come to school,” said Kleine, who has pointed out at several BOE meetings that the CIAC’s COVID-related guidelines are much weaker than the state’s.

She’s noted that CIAC is an organization that receives money through the districts and clearly benefits from sports programs proceeding.

“It isn’t just football, it’s soccer and it’s cheerleading,” Kleine said, noting that neighboring states have pushed football back until mid-September.

Yet Chair Candice Savin put a kibosh on Kleine’s concerns, stating that since it wasn’t on the agenda, it couldn’t be discussed.

“It’s not fair to have a discussion on something we haven’t posted,” she said, though the BOE was broadly voting on the school reopening plans.

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice noted that there were “different interests” at play across both the academic and extracurricular spectra.

While he said the BOE could make a recommendation about fall sports now, he didn’t believe it needed to, as he thinks the health department will produce more detailed guidelines presently.

“I could be wrong, but that’s my prediction,” he said.

Staples High School principal Stafford Thomas said his athletic department “had essentially paused the workouts that they had planned for this week.”

“They did push back the start of games and the number of games,” he said.

“I feel like we’re operating in one bubble and they’re operating in another bubble and the bubbles are gonna meet in school and I just don’t think it’s right,” Kleine said.

BOE OK’s Coach Stipends; Forms Committee to Reopen Schools

By Jarret Liotta

Two items related to the COVID-19 crisis were addressed by the Board of Education (BOE) tonight, including paying stipends to the high school’s spring coaches.

Hoping to stay ahead of the curve, the BOE is also implementing a superintendent’s School Reopening Committee (SRC) to begin planning on how to proceed with logistics when the time comes.

“I believe this needs to be our primary goal for next year,” said Anthony Buono, assistant superintendent for teaching & learning, describing it as likely to be an extremely challenging endeavor.

He said several scenarios will have to be examined by a group that will include administrators, union representatives, a health official, one parent, one BOE member and four work group chairpersons of undetermined backgrounds.

Cost of Coach Stipends Questioned for This Season

By Jarret Liotta

It wasn’t even on the agenda, but a peripheral debate of whether to pay spring coaches their stipends during this time of closures is prompting the Board of Education (BOE) to put it to vote next week.

Elio Longo, chief financial officer, tonght shared details on $550,000 in savings that have resulted from the closures during the operating budget’s third quarter.

But that does not include an additional $241,000 that is currently earmarked to pay Staples High School (SHS) coaches, who Superintendent of Schools David Abbey said are already doing their work with students.

“We have approximately 50 coaches this spring who have already begun their work in a variety of ways,” he said.

Silenced by Virus

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The Staples gym was supposed to full of fans tonight as the boys basketball team was scheduled to face off against Enfield in a playoff game. But a decision by Connecticut State Interscholastic Athletic Conference officials earlier in the day to cancel all winter sports because of the coronavirus left players and fans suddenly abandoned. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jared Nixon for WestportNow.com

Academic Honors for Boys Soccer

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For the 17th time in 19 years—and the 14th season in a row—the Staples boys soccer program has been honored with a national award for academic excellence. And they did it with a GPA far beyond the already high standard. United Soccer Coaches presented the Wreckers with a Team Academic Award at last weekend’s annual convention in Baltimore. Only two other boys public high schools in Connecticut earned the award. To qualify, a squad must have a 3.25 grade point average of all varsity players. The award is given for the previous academic year. In 2018, Staples’ varsity players had an average GPA of 3.39. “I’ve always said that our players are some of the smartest and most creative people at Staples,” said head coach Dan Woog. “We want our guys to be as strong in the classroom as they are on the field. What’s especially gratifying about this award is that it’s won as a team. I’m proud that United Soccer Coaches recognizes our team as one that strives for academic excellence.” Woog said that indications are good that the 2019 squad should also qualify for the Academic All-American honor. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Armelle Daniels for WestportNow.com

Flashback: Meeting of a Lifetime With Don Larsen

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(Editor’s note: In 2006, baseball great Don Larsen, who died Wednesday at age 90, visited Westport. Here’s how WestportNow reported the event: ) Westporter Donna Haupt tonight finally met her namesake, famed World Series perfect game pitcher Don Larsen almost 50 years after she was born. When Haupt’s parents attended the Yankees-Dodgers World Series game on Oct. 8, 1956, her mother went into labor. Her parents left Yankee Stadium before the end of the game and headed for Lenox Hill Hospital where at 6:58 p.m. she gave birth to a girl who they were going to name Melody but instead named Donna in honor of the historic athletic performance of Larsen. They met at Westport’s Legends of the Game sports memorabilia store on Post Road East where Larsen, 77, autographed baseball items. Haupt said the meeting fulfilled a lifetime wish. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com