WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) ─ COVID-19 threw a curve ball at youth sports leagues this summer, severely delaying many seasons.
Gov. Gina Raimondo gave sports leagues the green light for low-contact and no-contact sports during Phase 3 of her plan to reopen the state’s economy earlier this week.
President of the Warwick North Softball Little League tells Eyewitness News they’re ready to step back up to the plate.
“Right now at this point, we should be heading to the All Stars, picking All Star teams and getting ready to play in the districts and hopefully into the regional,” League President Kevin Detroia said.
Raimondo said she’s looking ahead to Phase 3 and hopes to make an official announcement next week. On Wednesday, she revealed new guidelines for youth and adult sports:
- No-contact and low-contact sports like baseball, softball, tennis and golf will be able to play games in stable groups with no limit on overall group size (A stable group means keeping the same players and coaches together over the course of the summer.)
- Games can be played against teams out-of-state as long as that state doesn’t have a stay-at-home order in effect
- Spectators will be allowed at games but limited to two per player to keep crowds down, and they’ll be required to wear masks
- Players will also be encouraged to wear masks when practical, and keep their distance otherwise
- Games for close-contact sports like basketball, football and soccer will still be discouraged, but practices, drills and scrimmages are permitted
- Details will be posted to ReopeningRI.com
Raimondo asked parents to be responsible, creative and use good judgement when it comes to their kids playing sports. She also said those guidelines only pertain to Phase 3 this summer and new rules for 2020-21 school sports will be released closer to the fall.
That means it’s crunch time for Detroia, who says his players have been eager to start their summer season.
“We’re starting to revamp everything and move forward practicing, and then after July 4 we’re going to start having games,” he said.
Detroia said the league is made up of girls ranging from 5 to 16 years old.
“Starts off at t-ball, goes into minors and then into majors, then the junior division,” Detroia said.
Pretty soon, they’ll all be back in uniform, though things will be much different. Detroia said the league is already making plans to play against other teams.
Detroia says the players will likely be in the bleachers rather than the dug out to ensure social distancing.
“It’s a little bit more of a learning course for us to keep a distance,” Detroia said. “The coaches have to wear a mask if they are within 6 feet of the players. It’s just an adjustment I think that we will all make.”
Despite a new feel to the game, Detroia said the players are up for the challenge. He also encourages anyone who hasn’t signed up yet or is interested in joining the league to do so online.