HARTFORD, September 9, 2020 – An estimated 1,200 players, coaches, parents and supporters of high school football came to the state capitol in Hartford on Wednesday night to passionately call for high school football to be played this fall in Connecticut.
Several state legislators addressed the rally and shared their support. The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) said last week that there would no football season this fall based upon guidance from the state Department of Health that playing would be too risky during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The risk of spreading the contagious COVID-19 coronavirus that has killed more than 190,000 Americans this year has disrupted many facets of our society in the last seven months – including sports. There will be no intercollegiate athletics of any kind at the University of Connecticut this fall or in the Ivy League either. And that includes football.
The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the final weeks of the high school basketball season last March across Connecticut and the entire scholastic slate last spring.
But there are several states around the country currently playing high school football. And everyone at the rally is adamant of having the opportunity to play this fall.
“We will not go down without a fight,” said Joe Aresimowicz, the Speaker of the House in Connecticut’s House of Representatives and the head football coach at Berlin High. “We will play football this fall. To make it happen, you have to continue to do the right thing. Let people know the stories of why we deserve to play and let them know we will not go quietly into the night.”
State Senator Len Fasano, a former college football player, added his support. “You have great legislators here you are fighting for you and who will work hard for you. We will work our darnest to get this thing done.”
New Hampshire is the only New England state currently planning to play football this fall. Massachusetts and Rhode Island have said they will play football next spring and Vermont plans to play 7-on-7, an option that few Connecticut players and coaches are expressed support for. Maine is still considering what do with football this fall.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont told News 12 earlier today that the CIAC and the Department of Health will meet on Friday to discuss options to play football and how to do it safely.
I'm calling for a meeting between @CTDPH and @ciacsports to be held on Friday regarding ways to safely hold school sports. We have an obligation to all of our students, faculty, staff, and administrators to keep them safe, and I expect that goal to be the focus of the discussion. pic.twitter.com/une30SlshO
— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) September 10, 2020
“I want to see football being played but I want to see it being played safely,” Lamont told News 12. “The reason we have the lowest infection rate in the country is because we have erred on the side of caution Everybody’s trying to be creative and allow these kids to play football, but (we need to) do it in a way that keeps the risk down.”
There were players from across the state at the rally including players and coaches from Greenwich, Killingly, Hand and Torrington. Players from Simsbury, Avon, Farmington, Lewis Mills and Granby/Canton were in attendance.
Team captains from Lewis Mills, who helped coordinate this rally, and Granby/Canton spoke before the rally broke up with a march around the state capitol by the players. Representatives from Avon and Farmington were among the 33 schools that were scheduled to address the rally.
“For the last three months, my brothers and I have been told to work tirelessly to meet the state’s requirements to play football. We were told flatten the curve and you will get your season. And the curve is now flat,” Granby/Canton’s Devin Flagg said. “We do this because we love the game. It is our passion and our relentless pursuit to work and strive to be (part of) something bigger than ourselves.”
“We sacrificed this summer so we would have a chance to play this fall,” Simsbury’s Sam Scott said. “This (rally) is amazing. It is a cliché to say (football) is more than a sport but it really is. It brings us together and will all of the division and bad stuff in the world right now, this really brings us together.”
Many of the area players also attended Sunday’s rally in West Hartford.
Avon’s Owen Folkwein was going to speak before the crowd but once the players marched around the capitol grounds, the rally broke up. Here is what Owen would have shared with the crowd.