Youth sports leagues cautiously prepare, hope to play this summer

Published: May. 4, 2020 at 11:17 PM CDT
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As youth sports leagues begin practices for whenever their seasons may begin, people raise concerns about whether practices should be allowed and how those practices should look when it comes to matters such as limiting group sizes and social distancing.

As long as strict social-distancing standards are in place, there doesn't seem to be any violation of the rules in place with the state's phased-in plan for reopening.

"We want to make sure everyone is safe and we can dot this the right way," says Wichita Sluggers Academy Director of Operations Tonto Baxley who oversees 350 players across 34 teams.

With the strict social-distancing guidelines in place, the academy finds new ways to continue to practice while following the rules in place to help prevent potential spread of COVID-19.

"We do have some teams that are practicing. We're splitting the teams in half with a coach and doing for to five to six players at a time," Baxley says.

Gatherings of no more than 10 people are allowed in Phase One of Kansas Governor Laura Kelly's plan to reopen the state. Phase Two starts May 18 at the earliest. During this phase, organized sports can resume as long as there are no gatherings of more than 30 people. Social-distancing and the wearing of masks are encouraged.

The Sluggers Academy has plans in place for when its facility reopens.

"We will not allow parents into the facility because we want to keep the numbers down, and we're not letting kids bring equipment in other than a bat and glove," Baxley says. "They're going to have to wash their hands when they come in and when they leave. We're spraying down the balls with Lysol after every practice."

Baxley says he understands concerns of parents keeping their children away from practices for now and encourages them to come back when they think the time is right.