Schools Sports

West Hartford High Schools Prepare for Fall Sports Season

The Conard high school field and stadium was a busy place with tryouts for various teams on Saturday, August 23, 2014. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Back to school in West Hartford also means it’s time for high school sports to return.

By Ronni Newton

The calendar may still say it’s summer, but West Hartford Public Schools reopen on August 27, 2014, and all over town student athletes have already been attending tryouts and practices, preparing for the fall season.

Both Conard and Hall high school football teams began practice on August 13, and the rest of the teams (girls and boys soccer, girls and boys cross country, girls swimming and diving, girls volleyball, cheerleading, and field hockey) held tryouts beginning August 23. There are approximately 550 fall athletes registered at each high school according to West Hartford Public Schools Athletic Director Betty Remigino-Knapp, and she said that was “one of the highest numbers ever.”

The students are working hard, but also having fun. Conard boys soccer head coach Adam Linker, as well as the other coaches and team captains, participated in the ice bucket challenge after Saturday’s tryout, allowing the team’s seniors to douse them with buckets of icy water. Coach Linker challenged other Conard and Hall coaches to also take the challenge.

Two new coaches will take over varsity teams this fall. At Hall, Sarah Chaves takes the reins as head field hockey coach, replacing Carlie Dailey. Chaves was formerly the JV coach. “She already knows the kids really well and will be fantastic,” Remigino-Knapp said.

Matt Cersosimo takes over for his father, Rob Cersosimo, as head football coach at Conard. He’s only the third head coach to run the Conard program, and continues the McKee/Cersosimo family dynasty. “He’s been doing a great job already, and the kids really love him,” said Remigino-Knapp.

The biggest change for this fall, said Remigino-Knapp, will be many more night games in the high school stadiums.

“There are four events allowed under the lights for each team, and almost every team chose to do that,” Remigino-Knapp said. “I think it will be a lot of fun, and the coaches and kids are really excited.” Installation of the stadium lights at Conard and Hall was completed late last fall, and most teams only had the opportunity to play one regular season game at night.

Remigino-Knapp said that she hasn’t gotten many complaints from neighbors about the night games, and believes that traffic issues have been kept to a minimum. “We’re trying very hard to be a good neighbor,” she said, adding that only certain games attract really large crowds.

The annual Conard vs. Hall football game, a true community event that attracts several thousand fans, was the only night football game at Conard last fall but will be held in the afternoon (1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22) this year. Holding the game at night wasn’t a problem last year, Remigino-Knapp said, but the Hall coach and administration decided to have it during the day this year to better accommodate the other events that surround the game.

Conard was scheduled to have new bleachers installed in its stadium this year, but Remigino-Knapp said that the project was delayed because the contractor could not guarantee they would be complete in time for the fall season to begin. The installation may begin after the season ends if weather permits, or be held off until the end of next spring’s sports season.

Students, parents, and fans who want to easily keep track of team schedules and results should definitely install the CIAC’s new user-friendly mobile site on their phones and other devices, advised Remigino-Knapp. Go to CIAC Mobile (http://www.casciac.org/ciacmobile/#_home) and save the icon to your home screen so you will be able to open it easily. You can select any CIAC school(s) you like as your “favorite” by clicking on the star next to that school’s name. Rosters will be posted, schedules will always be the most up-to-date, and you can also use the site to see what’s happening with all sports that day, that week, etc.

Remigino-Knapp said that she has already held a leadership meeting with all fall captains, and substance abuse meetings for all 9th graders and new students will be held at both high schools this week. Conard cheerleading coach Dr. Susan Averna will lead the presentation at Conard on Wednesday night, and Hall lacrosse coach Dr. Meg Chaplin will present at Hall.

A few scrimmages have already been held, and the regular season begins on Tuesday, Sept. 9.

You can also follow the athletic department at both schools on Twitter (@CHSWHAthletics and @HallWHAthletics) and also be sure to look for game stories and feature on We-Ha.com.

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