CHESHIRE, CT (WFSB) - A major announcement that rocked the high school sports world was the subject of a protest on Wednesday.
A large turnout took place at the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference headquarters in Cheshire.
The CIAC announced on Tuesday that winter sports tournaments were canceled due to coronavirus concerns.
“After much consideration and consultation, the CIAC has made the difficult decision to cancel all remaining CIAC winter tournament games," said Glenn Lungarini, CIAC.
The decision impacted boys and girls basketball, ice hockey, swimming and diving.
For the most part, the protest was peaceful Wednesday morning. There were a couple of soda bottles thrown on the roof, at the windows, and students banged on the doors.
"I hope we get the word out because it's just not fair," said Sabrina Soler, a Newington basketball player.
"I was heartbroken. I had no sense of closure, I had no idea the game I played a couple of weeks ago would be the last of my career. I cried right away," said Grayson Herr, a Farmington hockey player.
A petition circulated a short time afterward in hopes of convincing the CIAC to continue the tournaments. It garnered nearly 80,000 signatures in less than a day.
CIAC leaders said their decision was based on two big factors. First, venues that had committed to hosting neutral site games were no longer available. Second, some schools that would have participated pulled out and forfeited.
“The CIAC understands and appreciates the disappointment that athletes, parents, coaches and admins may feel," Lungarini said.
In a crowd of student-athlete demonstrators, Weaver High School’s boys varsity basketball team and biggest fans were thinking aloud.
“They could’ve live-streamed the game. Had no fans there,” said Chris DeJesus, a Weaver High School senior.
“They should’ve started the tournament a lot sooner and been able to let the kids play,” said Dawne Gittens, of Hartford.
The team started rough early on, playing every game on the road this season since their court is not ready.
More than a game, their coach said scholarships and colleges were on the line at the tournament from recruiters.
“It’s difficult, but just letting them know that I have their back. I’m still going to help them with recruitment,” said Coach Reggie Hatchett.
The coach said he’s going to do everything he can to make sure those seniors are in good standing with those colleges.