July 6 is the target date for some youth sports to return to the Mid-Hudson Region as part of the New York Forward rollout. While “lower risk” sports as defined by the state like tennis and golf are already permitted, “moderate risk” sports will be permitted now that the region is in phase 3.
The list of “moderate risk” sports includes: baseball, softball, doubles tennis, racket games (badminton, racquetball), water polo, gymnastics, field hockey, noncontact lacrosse, swimming relays, soccer, crew with two or more rowers, rafting and paintball.
These sports are identified as permissible as they offer the “ability to maintain physical distance” as long as most equipment is not shared and equipment that must be touched by multiple participants is cleaned and disinfected as per the state’s guidelines.
The low and moderate risk sports will be open to “all types of play, except competitive tournaments requiring travel.” On July 6, the “higher risk” sports “may only partake in individual or distanced group training and organized no/low contact group training.” Those activities include: football, wrestling, ice hockey, rugby, basketball, contact lacrosse, volleyball, and competitive cheer and group dance.
The state released a 14-page set of guidelines that outlines safety, sanitary and social distancing guidelines, including allowing only two spectators per athlete at outdoor events.
“I think it’s good, but I think we as administrators, parents and coaches, we need to be cognizant of what’s happening out there with influxes of the COVID-19 in other areas of our country,” Scarsdale Parks and Recreation Department Superintendent Brian Gray said. “It’s still out there, it’s still spreading, so as much as we’re reopening, we need to go about it in a way that we protect our youth and don’t go in the wrong direction.”
School fields are expected to remain closed through August, so the recreation department is limited in what it can offer throughout town. The independent sports organizations (ISOs) that run rec and travel programs will have to apply for field permits in addition to submitting their COVID-19 safety plans.
“We will be asking each ISO to let us know what their plans are to make sure they are in compliance with New York Forward regulations,” Gray said. “Right now you can only have groups of 10, but in the very near future it’s going to be groups of 25.”
Scarsdale Youth Soccer Club and Stay-In-Town Soccer are looking to offer weekly summer camps from July 6 through Aug. 10 for ages 4-14 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration is open with the hopes the camps will be able to proceed.
“We’re in constant communication with the Scarsdale Parks and Recreation, with whom we have a very good relationship,” said Curt Rosenthal of Stay-In-Town Soccer. “We’ve been working with them for a while. They’re waiting to hear from the state and everybody is waiting to hear from somebody else. Once there’s more clarity around that, they can potentially open the fields.”
After going virtual with its training in the spring — Stay-At-Home Soccer was created — Rosenthal and SYSC are eager to get kids back out on the field and follow whatever guidelines they are given to follow.
“We want to do whatever we can to support children playing soccer and enjoying the world’s most popular game, fostering a sense of community and involvement around the game of soccer,” Rosenthal said. “This is definitely a setback for us, for everybody not to be able to be out on the fields, which is so natural for all of us all our lives, but we believe the time will come when we’ll be out there again and hopefully it will come sooner rather than later. But whenever it is we’ll be prepared and ready to go.”
Scarsdale Raider Youth Softball Association is planning a camp from July 6 to Aug. 21, according to head coach and trainer Dave Scagnelli. Additionally, he is hoping to field 10u, 12u and 14u summer teams that would not travel as usual, but play home games.
Scagnelli is prepared to submit a safe return to play plan to the recreation department to get kids back on the field.
“All my years coaching softball, it’s the first time in my 30 years there’s no softball season,” Scagnelli said. “Obviously the girls at the high school level, especially the seniors, they can’t get their season back, but the other girls who have been playing — hopefully we can get them out here with a bunch of protocols.”
Softball and baseball will have similar rules about how many players are in the dugout at once, where the rest of the players are stationed, who needs to wear a mask and when, and when the ball needs to be sanitized. Umpires will also be distanced from their normal spots.
“You’re going to have to reteach some habits, that’s for sure, but softball is a sport that lends to social distancing, especially on defense,” Scagnelli said. “You just keep kids apart and don’t let them congregate.”
Scarsdale Little League board member Michael Novoseller said the board would meet in early July to decide its next steps.
In addition to preparing the pool for a July 18 opening and monitoring the ISOs, Gray is focused on other village-run programs. Gray said adult softball, which uses school fields, has been canceled for the summer. Singles tennis opened up May 22 with every other court closed, and Scarsdale is now allowing doubles tennis at the high school courts and some other locations, including Brite Avenue, Wynmor and Crossway Har-Tru.
Tennis lessons are being planned to begin in early July.
“We’re fine-tuning the offerings and we hope to have that at the beginning of July,” Gray said. “It’s most likely going to be individual at the beginning and as we move forward hopefully we’re going to be able to offer more group lessons.
“Again, we don’t want to come out of the blocks saying we’re going to do this, this and this and reel things back. We’d rather start with a slow rollout plan.”