CHESHIRE - The CIAC held an emergency press conference on Tuesday morning to cancel all remaining postseason competition for winter sports, and 24 hours later, a larger crowd gathered outside the organization’s offices in Cheshire.
Hundreds of protestors, many of them student-athletes, marched up Realty Drive and to the offices of the CIAC on Wednesday morning to express their displeasure with the CIAC’s decision to end the winter sports season. Chants of “Let us play!” reverberated through the large crowd as CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini spoke to reporters outside the office. The gathering crowd prompted Cheshire police to escort Lungarini back into the office building, but the crowd remained for hours, holding signs and reading prepared statements while Lungarini remained inside. At another press conference after the crowd dispersed, Lungarini expressed his desire to come back outside and speak to the crowd, but actions from protestors led him to remain inside.
Bottles, drinks and an egg were reportedly thrown at the building, and one student-athlete was told to leave the grounds by local police. The remainder of the rally was peaceful, with coaches and athletic directors also in attendance to show support.
Among the crowd were members of the Hall-Southington boys ice hockey team, who had recently won their first-round matchup in the Division III tournament before their march to Ingalls Rink was cut short. Other local athletes that didn’t attend offered their support of the cause.
“It just shows how much we care about sports and how much it means to us,” New Britain boys basketball senior guard Tahmeen Dupree said. “If they don't consider overturning their decision, then that's crazy.”
Inside the CIAC offices, Lungarini stated the decision would not be overturned, barring a significant change of guidance from the governor, while student-athletes continued to express their displeasure, including Newington senior forward Ashanti Frazier, who spoke to the crowd on a megaphone.
“This is completely unfair for everyone,” Frazier said. “It’s just a serious letdown.”
The crowd gathered at 10 a.m. and dispersed before 1 p.m., when Lungarini again spoke to reporters about the decision that the CIAC doesn’t believe has happened in its 100 years of existence.