The Westhill softball team heads to the field for a final intrasquad game after learning that its season had ended. Kathleen O’Rourke/Staff Photographer
The Westhill High School softball team won its second straight Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference championship Saturday afternoon.
But its finest moment came today, just minutes after the players learned that 2 1/2 hours earlier, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference had ended their season, overturning a successful protest the Vikings had made the day before after a 4-3 loss to Norwich Free Academy in the second round of the state tournament.
The details have been well-documented — there is a follow-up story in tomorrow’s Advocate.
And because of article 6.3 in the CIAC guidelines, which does not allow for protests in state playoff games, the correct call was made.
We will save for another day the CIAC’s ridiculous policy, which can be filed under article 63 of why it is one of the most feckless organizations in the country.
The bottom line is the CIAC does not deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as the Westhill softball team.
After 20 players learned their year had ended and seven seniors — Brittany Longo, Kylee Ruther, Lynette Martinez, Hannah Goldstone, Julie Osipow, Taylor Kurtz and Nicole Memale — discovered their careers were over, everyone was crestfallen. There were many tears and hugs as the team’s coach, Tom Pia, and the school’s athletic director, Mike King, who had relayed the news, stood silently and watched.
But like a rainbow after a storm, 10 minutes later the players were laughing and smiling. They arrived at the field in their uniforms — King and Pia had decided earlier to wait and tell the team together of the ruling — and no matter what there was going to be one last game.
Players were out of position — Longo was in center field, Osipow pitched, Julianne Vincent was at catcher and Martinez was at first base.
It was softball at its most basic, salve to a deep wound.
“No matter what happens, we’re one big family,” Ruther said.
Defending champions are often cast as enemies by virtue of their status, but there were no ill words spoken about the Vikings, largely because of the popularity of their players.
Today’s display was one of the more inspirational moments in high school sports I have witnessed in recent memory.
The standings may say that the Vikings’ final game was a loss.
But to anyone who was at their field yesterday, it was a great big W.