They’re Back!!!

Passionate DHS Fans Return to Sporting Events With a Bang

Tripp Lyons, Writer

Darien High School students dressed in costume at Silent Night.
Darien High School students cheer as Simeon Doll lay ups Blue Wave’s seventh point on Silent Night
Copyright Darien Athletic Foundation,

Simeon Doll drove on the left side of a defender and laid the ball up leaning backwards as two defenders covered him. The ball bounced in marking the 7th point and the roar of the student section dressed from head to toe in costume could be heard. Silent Night, the basketball game where students stay completely silent until the seventh point is scored, marked the first time that fans were allowed into Darien High School sporting events. As usual, DHS Students rose to the occasion and returned with a bang. 

For most of the year, students were welcomed into athletic events after a full calendar year of COVID disrupting that. The result was an enthusiastic atmosphere that was created and showcased at several big games, including Darien’s win against Newtown in week three of the football season, the Turkey Bowl, the subsequent state tournament semifinals rematch, and finally the State Championship game.


Darien Student Section at Newtown Football Game September 2021
Powder flies in the air symbolising the wave at the Darien Newtown State Championship rematch.
Copyright Darien Athletic Foundation,

In December however, the new Omicron Variant began to spread rapidly and school officials put a halt on fans, limiting attendance to two parents per athlete. In a school communication, Athletic Director Chris Manfredonia wrote “out of an abundance of caution, and until further notice, any Darien HS athletic event, whether it is held on school grounds or off, will be limiting the number of spectators to only allowing 2 parents per participant.” Mr. Manfredonia added that “the administration will continue to monitor the impact Covid is having on our community and will use that information to determine when the limited attendance can be lifted.”

The decision was met with outrage from both students and parents who argued that the decision harmed athletes who have already lost so much throughout the last two years. School officials argued that the decision was best for the health and safety of the students. 

As more and more schools in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference began to open up attendance in late January as Covid cases began to decline, school officials began to rethink their attendance policy. On January 27th, Mr. Manfredonia wrote to students saying that “we are moving to 50% fan capacity for all home hockey and basketball events immediately.” Mr. Manfredonia further told students that this move would “allow us to fill each student section in these facilities to 50% of the allowable number of spectators.”

Following this, attendance was opened back up to 100% capacity. Officials say that the decision was made based on the current decrease in Covid cases. “The decision to move towards 100% capacity at our facilities was based on the decline in the number of cases of covid as reported in the town of Darien, in addition to the consultation with the local medical professionals” Mr. Manfredonia says. He also adds that the other FCIAC schools’ decisions were not a factor, saying “while we certainly discuss as a league, ultimately the decision regarding spectators is up to each individual district.”

Darien’s Simeon Doll shoots a three pointer in front on the first Darien student section since fans returned.
Copyright Darien Athletic Foundation, (Katharine Calderwood)

The school announced last week that gyms and rinks would open back up to 100% capacity, a move that many Darien residents appreciated. Mr. Manfredonia reports that “The decline in the number of cases seen was an overarching reason why we decided to go from 100% to 50% then back to 100%.” As far as the situation goes for spring sports, Mr. Manfredonia hopes that the new attendance policy can remain in effect. “Being outside will certainly help. I don’t foresee any restrictions to spectators in the spring, certainly not for any outdoor sports” Mr. Manfredonia says. 

As the roar of the student section on Silent Night was heard, the Darien bench started clapping as well. Adrenaline flowed through the veins of Darien’s basketball team, and for good reason. Months of playing in empty gyms, playing for two parents, home crowds only, even having zero fans at away games felt like a lifetime for the athletes as they craved the glory which came with high school sports. Now though, the wave is back, this time with a bang.