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Meriden joins surrounding towns in closing outdoor athletic facilities

Meriden joins surrounding towns in closing outdoor athletic facilities

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The gates to athletic facilities are officially locked at all public high schools in Meriden, Wallingford, Cheshire and Southington.

The outdoor facilities at Sheehan and Lyman Hall in Wallingford, as well as at Cheshire High and Southington High, have been closed to the public since last week. 

Meriden closed the tracks and fields at Platt and Maloney on Tuesday in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“The tennis courts already had locks on them and now the other fields are locked up as well,” Maloney athletic director Bob McKee said. “We have signs posted around the facility.

“We don’t want any students organizing, no large groups. We want the kids working out with family members or by themselves and practicing social distancing.”

Connecticut schools have been closed since March 13 and the CIAC spring sports season has been put on hold until the state decides when they will re-open.

Platt athletic director Rich Katz, noting that safety is the top priority in this situation, said this is the first spring in 46 years that he is home.

“This whole situation is horrible for everyone, but especially for our senior athletes,” Katz said. “Everyone always looks forward to their senior year, but the CIAC still has hope. They have the best interest in the athletes in their minds at all times.”

At Sheehan, athletic director Chris Dailey said his spring coaches and players are in “offseason mode” for the moment. There is no public access to the school’s track or any of its fields.

“The coaches are staying connected with their kids using the Google platforms,” Dailey said. “Health and academics are the priority right now, but athletes can do their self-workouts at home to stay mentally and physically ready.”

Across town at Lyman Hall, everything that can be locked is locked.

“Everything is in a holding pattern right now,” said LH athletic director Steve Baker. “The kids want to get out and do something and, hopefully, they will sooner rather than later, but this is all about safety of our kids.”

In Cheshire, the town parks are open, but playgrounds and tennis courts are closed. All athletic facilities at Cheshire High School are also closed, according to athletic director Steve Trifone.

“We are still in a wait-and-see period and the spring season is going to depend on the governor’s decision when he will re-open schools again,” Trifone said.

“We would be in the thick of the spring season right now,” he added. “My job is certainly different right now. This is the first spring I’ve been home in 25 years. But I give my coaches credit for staying involved. They are staying in touch with their players even if it’s not face to face. Thank God for technology. I don’t know where we would be right now without it.”

The athletic fields at Southington High School have been closed since last Monday.

“We want to impress upon the kids to stay home, so we closed our facilities until further notice in the spirit of practicing social distancing,” said Southington athletic director Steve Risser. “We didn’t want our school to be a place where people are gathering and not practicing social distancing.”

Hope remains that, before spring is out, all the locks and chains will come off and the playing fields will come alive once more with activity. For now, schools in Connecticut remain closed until at least April 20.

The CIAC, which was proactive in canceling what remained of the winter postseason on March 10, two days before virtually the rest of the sports world followed suit, is taking a wait-and-see approach to spring, following the lead of Gov. Ned Lamont and state officials.

“ADs as a whole, we supported the CIAC and taking our time and seeing what happens,” said Risser. “We know they are doing everything in their power to see if we can have some spring season if possible.”