SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Summertime for many Utah families is full of Saturday morning soccer games and evening outings to the ballpark to watch their kids play baseball. However, even with the state moving into the yellow phase of coronavirus precautions, youth sports are not going to be what they have always looked like.
“It hasn’t been easy, just because things have been announced yellow, it doesn’t mean everything is automatic,” says Rhett Udy, owner of the Rocky Mountain School of Baseball.
As most of Utah has moved into the yellow phase, youth sports now have less restrictions and are one step closer to resuming to their ‘normal’. Rocky Mountain School of Baseball will start their season on May 30th. Meanwhile, Utah Youth Soccer will not have a spring season but hopes to provide a summer friendly series in lieu of the spring season.
“We can’t really have a season until everyone is able to be out there if only some of the teams and clubs are in yellow and some are in orange, we are not serving our whole community like our goal is,” says Jen Rader, Media Manager of Utah Youth Soccer.
While soccer teams located in orange locations have more restrictions, teams and clubs located in yellow locations can now have full-contact soccer training and scrimmages. However, no spectators will be allowed, practices must be outdoors, no congregating is allowed and teams must comply with all local and state guidelines. All teams a part of Utah Youth Soccer will also assign a COVID-19 safety officer who will ensure that policy is communicated club-wide to coaching staff, parents, and players.
Rader says that Utah Youth Soccer hasn’t crossed the bridge of what games and seasons will look like in each different coronavirus phase but says games will “look a lot different than what we are used to seeing.”
As Udy has been starting up his baseball leagues and tournaments across the state, he says that it has taken a lot more coordination efforts with local and state officials to find fields for teams to use in each city. Udy also says that he has had at least 50 teams pull out of leagues due to various reasons surrounding the coronavirus.
Udy says that the main guidelines that will need to be followed for his baseball leagues to stay safe are not having fans congregate and having players’ symptoms checked.
“Baseball is a naturally social distancing sport so it’s not going to look a lot different other than you are going to be seeing a lot more hand sanitizer,” says Udy. “But, as far as the game goes it’s a naturally social distanced game.”
Udy even had some games take place on May 16, the day the governor moved some of the state to the yellow phase.
“In just the few games we played on the day we went yellow on May 16, just being at the ballpark, it was very obvious just how happy everyone,” says Udy. “It was a different feel. You could sense the joy. I think that is what’s going to be exciting, to see all these kids and families just really happy because the past few months I don’t think there has been a ton of happiness.”
Rader says regardless of how the spring season may or may not roll out or what the fall season will look like, Utah Youth Soccer is happy to provide kids some sort of way to get out and play soccer with their coaches and teammates.
“Now that kids are back on the field and coaches are executing these trainings and that we are in yellow in a lot of these areas, kids are just so excited to get back,” says Rader. “Coaches are excited to see their players again so the feedback has been really really positive. Kids are excited to see their friends and their teammates and I think they are willing to go through those hurdles that they need to to ensure their safety and their health in order to get back on the field.”
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