RI little leagues begin practicing as season resumes

Northwest

SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI)  — After a long hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, youth sports are finally back, and little leagues across the state are not wasting any time.

Practices have already started for little leaguers in Smithfield, and the league’s president Mike Guilfoyle said he’s happy to see his boys together again.

“We’ve already seen the impact that being on the field has for these kids’ emotional well-being,” Guilfoyle said. “Once they got on the field and shook off some of that rust, there were a lot of smiles on the field.”

Other leagues across the state will reopen in the coming weeks, but of the 39 little leagues in Rhode Island, not all will return this summer. Most, if not all, believe fall ball will be an option come late August.

Guilfoyle said he and the leaders of other local leagues are prioritizing safety and enforcing some new rules this season.

“All coaches and managers must wear masks, frequent use of hand sanitizer, players are encourage to use batting gloves throughout practice, social distancing strictly enforced,” Guilfoyle said.

While Guilfoyle said it is important for kids to practice and improve their skills, getting better isn’t the only end goal.

“If we can provide some an opportunity for these kids to engage with each other, not through a digital device, but on a field while practicing social distancing, then I think sports have a tremendous value to play and a tremendous role as we transition from this period of isolation to whatever this new normal is,” he said.

Gov. Gina Raimondo announced last week that youth sports would be allowed to resume in Phase 2 of her plan to reopen the state’s economy, which began Monday. Players must only be in stable groups of 15 or fewer, and league tournaments will not be allowed until at least Phase 3.

In communities where leagues decided to cancel their summer season, registration updates for fall ball are expected in the coming weeks.

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