By: Tiffany Bement, Staff Writer
Hughesville, MD- For us all, COVID-19 has all but completely stopped the world from turning. We are all talking about the impact on jobs, schools, local businesses, toilet paper. We are talking about the impact on pro sports, college sports, international sports, school sports, but what about the little guys and gals?
Our local organized sports organizations.
For so many families in our community, springtime is sports time and these sports organizations are a vital part of their family’s weekly life. For the volunteers that keep these organizations that keep them operational, it’s their daily lives.
We wanted to know how our local organized sports organization officials were handling this crisis as this unprecedented and a complete shut down has never happened before, for any reason. We also wanted to know how parents of players felt, so reached out to several organizations and parents, and here is what we learned.
Whether you’re an organization official or not, everyone is a parent of a player and everyone is in the same boat.
Some of our local organizations are self-sustained, self-maintained, and cater to multiple sports like SMYO (Southern Maryland Youth Organization). Parent volunteers handle the administrative side, maintain the grounds, Coach, and ready the fields. They also run the SMYO concession stand which provides a majority of the funding required to keep SMYO functional and operating.
CCYL (Charles County Youth League), with a few minor differences, is ran the same. CCYL rents their fields and concession stand building from the county but, is still operated by parent volunteers.
Basically, all local organizations are function the same way.
When we asked Eric Vrem, President of CCYL, when parents could expect some definitive answers as to how CCYL is going to proceed with the season in limbo, he said:
“All of our board members are parents too, so we know how our parents feel. We don’t know what to do either because this has never happened before but, there is a first time for everything, and this is a first. Our board is working diligently to find the best solutions for our CCYL family”
He went on to explain, from the administrative side, why finding the best solution for both parents and CCYL is so difficult. He explained that before they can open registration, they have to be insured which is quite expensive for just one location. The expense grows when you are required to have multiple policies for multiple locations. This is a required expense for all organizations.
He also spoke about how some organizations, like CCYL, have already ordered and paid for player’s and coaches ’ uniforms.
When we asked Vrem how he and his family, as a sports family, are dealing with the crisis at home he said:
“We are staying positive and hopeful this will pass quickly. We are following the guidance and advice put forth by experts, ensuring we do our part to stop the spread of the virus. We continue to practice drills at home to make sure we are prepared for when the season starts.”
It appears the same at the home of Lewis Payne, Vice President of SMYO. When Payne was asked how he and his sports family were dealing he stated:
“As a father, at first I was skeptical and did not handle the cancellations or delays well. Youth Softball and Baseball is literally 24/7 in our household. My kids work hard on their skills indoors during the winter knowing that their time and dedication will pay off when we get outside and unfortunately, we never got on the field so for now, we continue to practice at home as we wait for the season to start.”
Although SMYO hasn’t ordered uniforms yet, Payne spoke about the same difficulties finding the best solutions for both parents and SMYO.
“Most local leagues closed registrations prior to the coronavirus shut down. While preparing for the season prior to the shutdown, we made several improvements to our home field such as replacing our old batting cages. We also had to handle administrative costs such as insurance so the players could play.”
He then went on to explain the administrative standpoint and how they too (SMYO administrative board) have relentlessly working to find solutions.
When asked if there was concern over registered turnout Payne replied:
“I hope Parents and Players from all organizations understand we administration officials and coaches miss you all during this time. You are more than registration numbers to us, you are like a second family. And for that reason, we encourage you to follow the proper safety precautions to stay healthy” Payne further stated, “ Based on our registration numbers, the virus did not appear to have a negative impact but if and when we get the season going, we will see how families respond.”
Both Vrem and Payne encourage players to watch video tutorials about drills and techniques. They also encourage parents to play catch with their players and assist in drills to get everyone’s mind off the chaos while getting some practice in.
They also said that they’re keeping their parents updated for and informed via email, websites, and social media pages and encourage parents from all other organizations to check their organization’s websites and social media to stay updated as well.
“This from my time playing sports to now being a sports parent myself has never experienced something like this,” says parent Lisa Clendenen.” I think we all hope this is a temporary situation but worry a little that it isn’t. Sometimes we are so busy rushing our family to practices and games that we could use this time as an opportunity to slow down and just play a game of catch in the backyard.”
“I feel personally with the uncertainty of when it will start back up that we either get our full practice and playing time not shortened OR parents are given money back. I do appreciate the concern for safety. Can’t be mad at that, just hoping to get some answers soon,” says parent Sarah Gould.
At the end of the day, we all need to remember that we are all trying to navigate the murky waters of the unknown abyss known as the COVID-19 virus. We all began this journey at the same time. Let’s all commit to being a little more patient and understanding that none of us know what lays ahead. And remember that your organization officials are trying doing all they can to figure this out just like we all are.
In the words of local little league softball pitcher, Sophie Payne:
“Hey, guys! We got this!”.