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Allowed to resume next week, youth sports teams gear up for summer season

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COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI)  — Youth athletes across Rhode Island are gearing up for the summer now that Gov. Gina Raimondo is allowing sports to resume during Phase 2 of her plan to reopen the state’s economy.

Raimondo said Thursday that games and practices must consist of “stable groups” of 15 kids or fewer and league play and tournaments won’t be allowed at first to prevent different groups from mixing together. She said she hopes to allow for that in Phase 3, which wouldn’t be until at least July.

The news is welcoming to young athletes like Tommy Turner, who was a member of the Coventry team that reached the Little League World Series in 2018.

Turner just wrapped up his freshman year of high school and was expected to contribute right away as a member of the Oakers’ boys varsity baseball team, but instead, he’s been stuck at home working out by himself.

“I was really looking forward to the season,” he said.

“It’s devastating for these kids, they trained all year long and they were ready to go,” Rob Turner, Tommy’s father, added.

Now that it’s summer, Tommy’s is shifting his focus to his travel team, the New England Scorpions, which is coached by former Rhode Island College third baseman Cody Ortega.

“Not having spring sports, and even tournaments early in the summer, pushes back the development needed to be seen in the summertime by college coaches,” Ortega said.

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As much as the boys are missing out on the exposure to scouts, it pales in comparison to the time together that they are missing.

“They miss that communication between the coaches and players and the kids motivating each other,” Ortega said. “It’s a strong group of players on every team.”

But Raimondo’s recent announcement proves that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

“Bonding with your teammates is one of the biggest parts, because baseball is a team sport,” Tommy said. “You can’t just single-handedly win a game, you have to be very close with your teammates.”

Ortega said that this is an opportunity for his players to realize that they should not take the time they have together for granted.

“I told our players it’s a great opportunity to take a step back, look at the situation, and not take it for granted anymore,” Ortega said.

The team will begin practicing together next week and still has plans to travel the country in August and September.

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