THESE LOCAL YOUTH were practicing at Barber Park Monday night. Photo courtesy of Stacy Knight.
Grady County youngsters started this week practicing baseball through the Grady County Recreation Department, a delay thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Director Becky Bracewell says teams of youngsters ages 8 to 14 hit the fields Monday evening under special restrictions in hopes of protecting the players, coaches and families from the virus.
“Our visitors at the park did a great job with social distancing and the excitement from the kids was great to see,” Bracewell says. “We’ve had to go through a lot of changes here.”
In addition to placing signs around the park reminding everyone about hand washing and social distancing and other health rules, Bracewell says they are also providing hand sanitizer, sanitizing dugouts between team sessions and wearing gloves and masks in the concession stand.
Dugouts will only hold between three and four children now with a second bench now placed outside each dugout for the rest of the team, according to Bracewell.
“We’re trying to follow all of the rules,” the recreation director says.
There are a total of 24 teams preparing to play, 16 baseball and eight softball.
When games start, teams will only play other Grady County Recreation teams, some may have five games others eight depending on the number of teams in their league. “We will try to play each team twice,” Bracewell explains. There will be no forfeits and no tournament play, and only one age group will play at Barber Park per night.
Unfortunately, the 10 T-ball teams that had registered for the spring sport, will have to wait until next year to play.
“We’re not doing the T-ball program this year. It’s really hard for children that age to get the concept of social distancing,” explains Bracewell.
All-Star sports are also cancelled this year.
The spring sports were ready to open for the season when the community shut down for the pandemic in mid-March. When it became clear that recreation sports could begin this month, Bracewell contacted all of the volunteer coaches to see whose teams wanted to play, and she says more than 50 percent responded favorably.
Bracewell reminds parents that allowing their children to play sports is their choice, and the recreation department is a community service.
“We love our community and want to let them have a voice to make our recreation department the best it can be,” states Bracewell.