In the background at Veterans Stadium in New Britain was a goalpost and CIAC state championship banners. The hope, the plan, is to have state championships in the fall, unlike last fall and winter when COVID prevented that from happening.
What gives hope this year, for one thing, is vaccinations, which were unavailable a year ago. The CIAC and the Connecticut Department of Health held a joint press conference Tuesday afternoon to promote vaccinations for students and student-athletes.
Xavier quarterback Drew Kron, headed into his senior year, told those gathered, “Athletics are such a big part to many student-athletes in the state, including myself, and we want to assure not only we have a full season but also a normal school year. Football games, Homecoming, prom, and other school events will be able to take place if we take the charge to get vaccinated. To all my fellow student-athletes out there who have not been vaccinated yet, I encourage you to sign up and stay in the game. Thank you.”
Xavier offered vaccination clinics in the spring, and Kron is fully vaccinated. He’s also fully expecting a memorable senior year. The two-sport star already has accepted a scholarship to attend the University of Connecticut and play baseball. As a quarterback, as a leader, he later told a reporter what he can do is speak to the facts about getting vaccinated, but then it is the choice of the individual.
“Are you ready for some football … I’m ready … and track and field and volleyball,” Gov. Lamont said when he stepped to the microphone as several athletes from various schools were behind him. “We missed you a lot last year … to our scholar-athletes it’s all about keeping you safe in the classroom as well.
“We’re doing everything we can to make sure you’re going to be in school and on the playing field at the very start of this school year right through the school year. It’s the best way to learn, it’s the best way to be with your friends, it’s the best way to win on the field, and we’re going to win.”
Lamont said there still was work to do, as evidenced by Tuesday’s daily COVID positivity rate of 4.25 percent with 36 more hospitalizations. Numbers in Connecticut have been rising. A mask mandate will be in effect for Connecticut K-12 students for at least the first month of school.
“Vaccines don’t always keep you from infection, but they keep you from suffering the worst complications, and they keep you safe,” Lamont said.
Safe in the classroom and on the field is the desire.
“After a long year without football, I can say my coaches, teammates and I could not be more excited to get back onto the field this fall,” Kron said.