BOSTON/WILMINGTON — On June 1, Governor Charlie Baker announced as part of Phase-II of the state's re-opening plan, that youth and adults sports activities can resume, provided all workplaces and programs adhere to the guidelines in which he outlined to the public.
On that day, Baker issued 'COVID-19 Order No. 35' clarifying the progression of the "Commonwealth's phased workplace re-opening plan and authorizing certain re-opening preparations at Phase II workplaces. COVID-19 Order No. 35 provides the following framework for amateur organized sports activities and programs during Phase II.
"Outdoor athletic facilities shall be open and available for organized youth and adults sports activities;
Indoor athletic facilities shall be open and available exclusively for the use of supervised sports programs, including sports camps, for youths under the age of 18;
Group size is limited. Programs must separate participants into groups of no more than ten participants, including coaches and staff;
Inter-team games, scrimmages and tournament shall not be permitted for any organized sports activities;
Contact sports (e.g. Basketball, football, baseball, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, hockey and other sports where ordinary play puts players in direct contact or close proximity) must limit activities exclusively to no-contact drills and practices."
Also as part of the guidelines, "Organizations, businesses, schools and government entities that operate indoor sports facilities will be permitted to reopen their indoor facilities ONLY to supervise youth sports leagues and summer sports camps for participants under 18 years old. The facilities include: Gymnastics Facilities; Indoor Pools; Indoor Athletic Fields and Courts; Indoor Ice Rinks; Indoor Tracks; Indoor Gymnasiums; Martial Arts & Dance Facilities; Indoor Racquet Courts; and Indoor Batting Cage Facilities.
Locker rooms will not be available and also it's expected that social distancing, proper individual hygiene, as well as work place Cleaning and Disinfecting will be applied at all times.
The Town Crier reached out to all of the youth leagues in town asking league presidents about the announcement and the new guidelines.
Earlier, the Wilmington Youth Lacrosse spring season was canceled, and since then the league completed refunds and are currently in the process of scheduling uniform pick-ups. Families will be notified of date, time and location of pick-ups via email and social media pages.
As for the immediate plans to resume play for the summer months, board president Jennifer Martins said no decision has been made.
“We are in constant contact with the boys (MBYLL) and girls (MBGLL) leagues regarding updated guidelines and lacrosse opportunities for summer,” said Martins.
She added that possibilities could include summer pick-up games and clinics and Learn to Play and additional skills clinics in the Fall. If those were to happen, WYLA will hold separate registrations and communicate that information to current players through email and social media platforms.
“We have been in contact with the town regarding permits and were told they would be issued on a first come first serve basis,” she said. "At this point, WYLA isn't sure if we are doing anything organized for the summer here in Wilmington”.
In order to have a successful summer program and upcoming spring season, Martins said that the league needs volunteers for coaching and additional board members.
“We will be holding our annual open meeting and election of officers on Monday, June 22nd. If anyone is interested in attending please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.”
Should the league get back on its feet even in the smallest of capacities, Martins concluded by saying: “In order to begin getting back out onto the field we will continue to follow necessary protocols in accordance with state guidelines.
“We also feel that spacing out practices and games appropriately and limiting the number of participants on the field, not sharing equipment and water bottles as well as having restroom facilities and water bubblers remain closed will allow the kids to safely return to the sport. Our number one priority is to keep our players and families safe.”
POP WARNER/MIDDLE SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Wilmington Pop Warner President Joe McCauley was asked about the recent events and said, "I am glad we our progressing into stage two and that youth sports can now begin to safely start back up. We can now begin to schedule practices and clinics to prepare for the upcoming season.”
Luckily for football, the season is still over two months away, giving time for hopefully more allowance in terms of what the league will be able to do, especially with football being such a contact sport.
For both (Wilmington Pop Warner and the Wilmington Middle School program) here in town, we still have a couple months before our seasons are expected to start,” he said. “We have some time to wait and prepare for the guidelines on contact sports. We plan on following the safety guidelines without issue when running summer pre-season practices and clinics and carry these protocols onto the fall season.
“As our season begins in August we will follow both local and state guidelines. Pop Warner is also governed by a National process and I am sure they will have strict guidelines when the season begins. As far as Middle School we will closely monitor what is happening at the HS level and follow the same safety process implemented for HS football.”
If everything continues to go as planned, McCauley said that Pop Warner and Cheerleading is scheduled to start on August 1st and then the middle school program will begin on August 17th. There is hope that the league will be able to have organized clinics on Sundays during the month of July. He added that the two leagues “did non-fee registration for the months of April and May, to begin planning and to help our families financially during those months.”
With the season about six or seven weeks away, McCauley said his message to parents and the players is pretty simple.
“Safety has always been our top priority and we will make sure to communicate our season plans and follow all guidelines to make sure we have a safe and healthy season,” he said.
Wilmington Youth Soccer Association President David Zaya emailed over a statement which was made from the league, saying: “Wilmington Youth Soccer Association is following the reopening guidelines established by Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association (MYSA) and health officials. We will strictly follow all guidelines put in place by the Governor, MYSA and Middlesex Youth Soccer League. Our ultimate goal is to establish a safe playing environment for our players and coaches based on the MYSA guidelines and public health officials.
“With the current timeline of the Massachusetts re-opening plan, we anticipate being able to safely practice and play games this Fall. We are gearing up for our Fall 2020 Travel and Intown seasons, and registration will be open shortly for both programs. Although per MYSA guidelines some limited activity is allowed beginning on June 15, many restrictions and requirements are in place. We are taking our time to ensure that we are prepared to adhere to these guidelines, and hope to offer soccer-related activities for players this summer.”
Additional information about the league's programming will be posted on the website 'www.wilmingtonyouthsoccer.org'.
President Jaret Balter emailed a statement to the Crier saying, “Wilmington Little League will move forward with it's 2020 summer baseball season. The season will start at the end of June/early July.
“The league will be putting into practice safe guidelines and practices, based on recommendations from Little League International. The summer season is subject to change and will be based on current state and local guidelines at all times.”