By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
The last time the Naugatuck boys basketball team took the court last March, fans were standing shoulder to shoulder around the sidelines in the Reggie O’Brien gymnasium at Wilby High School for the Naugatuck Valley League championship game against Holy Cross.
Things were a lot quieter when the Greyhounds tipped off the season last Friday at home against Torrington.
Naugatuck Public Schools has a no-visitor policy in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, which means no fans this winter at basketball games and swim meets.
“We will not have any fans in attendance for games,” Naugatuck AD Brian Mariano said.
NVL athletic directors decided not to have a league-wide fan policy, according to league president Mike McKenna, the Torrington AD. Each school will adopt its own policy.
Woodland AD Christopher Decker said the school will allow two fans per athlete into games and break it up for junior varsity and varsity competitions. No fans of visiting teams will be allowed at any games in the NVL, he added.
Leagues and schools around the state are handling fans differently. The Berkshire League is restricting attendance during the winter season to home spectators, if at all. Some of the Southern Connecticut Conference schools have a no-fan policy, and planned to review the rule after the first week of competition.
Naugatuck High didn’t allow fans for indoor events in the fall, with some exceptions.
“The only fans we had at home was during our senior night in the fifth game of the season,” said Naugatuck volleyball coach Kevin Wesche, adding two fans per varsity player were allowed for senior night.
Some teams are getting creative when it comes to playing in front of no fans.
Fans of the Naugatuck girls basketball team can purchase a fathead cutout that will be displayed during home games in the bleachers and help raise funds for the teams.
“I’m just happy we are able to have a season at all,” said Samantha Valentine, the Greyhounds’ only senior on the team. “My father is not too happy about no fans at the games, but I think they are just trying to keep everyone safe.”
Naugatuck High and Woodland both plan to stream live games for fans to watch.
Woodland girls basketball coach Jess Moffo said her team will tape games and post them on Hudl.
The Naugatuck boys basketball team will be streaming home games and some away games on its Facebook page and on the Naugatuck Public Schools’ YouTube channel.
The WATR broadcast team of Chris Saunders and David Grant will also broadcast boys basketball this winter, giving fans a little something to cheer about.
The Republican-American contributed to this report.