SUNDRE — With the official registration period recently wrapped up, Sundre Minor Ball is getting ready to play.
However, the organization was not yet as of late March certain exactly how the season will shape up.
“We’re going to try for a normal year, depending on how things go with COVID,” said Jason Bird, president, fully cognizant of the fact the pandemic protocols could change from one day to the next.
Although there had been some anticipation that Step 3 of the provincial government’s economic relaunch strategy would be announced in recent weeks, a recent rise in case counts throughout Alberta postponed any relaxation of restrictions.
“We were kind of hoping to see some kids’ sports show up on those easements,” Bird said on March 22 during a phone interview.
“At the moment, we’re kind of confined to what they laid out in Steps 1 and 2,” he said, referring to being allowed a maximum of 10 people on the field at once.
That might mean having two coaches for eight kids, or perhaps sometimes one coach to nine players, which would keep the organization in line with the pandemic health measures, he said.
“Our back-up plan is if we can’t play other towns but we’re allowed to play each other, we’ll do that,” he said.
“At least we get some practices in. As long as we can get some practising in and do some training, then at least we’re doing something and the kids are out running around.”
Although the official registration period recently wrapped up, with roughly a dozen baseball and softball teams, the organization will still consider late registrations for teams that are short one or two players. But some of the teams are already pretty full, and late registrations would in those cases bring them beyond the 10-11 maximum the organization aims to have in order to make adhering to the health guidelines that much easier, he said.
“So, we got to keep that in mind as we talk to anyone with late registrations,” he said.
In years past, he said the organization has typically fielded on average teams with more than a dozen players.
“But numbers are looking good (this year),” he said.
Although the teams have largely been assigned, practices are not expected to get underway until either later in April or perhaps early May, he said.
“We usually wait until the diamonds dry up," he said.
Additionally, the organization was at the time he spoke with The Albertan waiting for the municipality to release a user agreement for the diamonds, he said, adding there was still about a month to get those details sorted out.
“We also this year appointed a COVID coordinator,” he said.
Monica Rosevear has been tasked with staying on top of gathering updated information and compiled a kind of check list of steps to follow before each practice or game.
The board also hopes to assign a COVID parent volunteer on each team who will be responsible for helping the coaches to disinfect gear and supervise physical distancing on the bench, he said.
“That might be one thing too, is we may not be able to use the dugouts,” he said, adding that depends on the situation with COVID.
But even in that event, teams will still be able to play ball — the players would just have to stand outside the dugout to maintain distancing.
Having a dedicated COVID coordinator will also enable the board to focus more exclusively on their job of arranging games and practices, he said.
“It’s going to make a challenging season, successful," he said.
Last year’s disappointment of having to cancel the season has motivated the board to strive to ensure everything is lined up so the kids can play while making sure guidelines are being followed, he said.
“Main thing is it’s for the kids — we’re going to do what we can to get them out on the field and developing the game,” he said.
“We think we’ll be able to do what we can with what we’re given . . . if we got to keep it more in house, if that’s the way it goes, then we’ll just roll with it.”
On a note completely unrelated to the pandemic, Bird said he also intends to develop a plan to put some more shale on the diamonds, which will involved obtaining some quotes.
“Our Diamond 2 and Diamond 3, the infield isn’t big enough,” he said. “I’m going to write up a proposal (to the town, which runs the diamonds), and hopefully we can make Diamond 2 and Diamond 3 just a little bit bigger so that our midgets can play. Because right now, the bases are in the grass, pretty much.”