BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The return of sports has been a long time coming, but they’re back. With the reopening of Phase 4 in Western New York, youth sports leagues got the green light to start up again.
The Central Amherst Little League celebrated their Opening Day on Monday evening, and it was a welcome return for kids who have been cooped up for months to get back out there and play ball.
“We’ve been waiting for this and working hard at this for months, trying to get out here,” President of Central Amherst Little League Board of Directors Dan Albertson said. “We’re just so thankful for our community for investing in us and committing to us and hanging in there with us while we navigated some uncharted waters, so to finally reach this point is super exciting, and our kids are really excited as well.”
While some leagues across WNY had to cancel their season this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Central Amherst Little League started drafting a safety plan back in March to ensure the safety of their players, coaches, and families.
“Social distance is extremely important, so kids can no longer crowd in the same dugout, they must be at least six feet apart,” Albertson said. “Kids are encouraged to sit with their parents when they’re not up to bat or not on the field. They must keep their bags separate from one another, they must keep their belongings outside of the dugout.”
“There’s no food, particularly bubble gum and sunflower seeds, no sharing of water bottles, no sharing of helmets. Any gear that is shared is completely wiped down. They must wear masks when social distancing is not possible and they’re not on the field. Parents are asked to help us comply with all safety guidelines by ensuring the safety of their players and compliance of their own individual players.”
“Just having conversations with him to be safe and make sure that he’s encouraging his teammates at a safe distance, not high fiving” Central Amherst Little League mother Erica Shaw said. “Things are different, but we’re still excited that they’re able to play and be safe. We definitely know that it’s needed, these kids need to be playing baseball.”
Though the new safety guidelines will take some getting used to for everyone, it’s worth it to be able to play baseball again.
“It’s still baseball. We’re still playing the game that we love, so there’s a sense of normalcy,” Albertson said. “In terms of the social distancing and other rules that we have to follow, it’s taking a little getting used to, but it’s possible and it’s manageable. Kids are spread out, it’s taking a little more effort on the side of coaches and parents and other people involved to make sure their kid is ready to bat and make sure their kid is complying with our safety guidelines, but just to be able to be out at the park is a great sense of normalcy for sure.”