It is an uncertain way into uncharted territory.
Prep baseball and softball inherited the unenviable task of paving a path that others should follow or avoid in order to return to team sports after the pandemic.
Many eyes will be on college summer as they start practicing on Monday across the state and implementing new procedures and guidelines for safe attendance. They will be the first activities since spring sports went extinct due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From the administrators to the coaches, players and fans, the approach is that we get a chance here, so we have to make sure we’re doing everything right and that’s the bottom line,” said Dan Halter, baseball coach at Cedar Rapids Xavier said. “The situation will be different this year. There’s no way around it. “
The guidelines were passed on to schools, activity leaders and trainers. Most policies and their enforcement are set by individual school districts and county health authorities. The coaches must share the burden of conveying these to players and parents and executing them.
“In all honesty, we’re going to start with a long talk about how this summer will work,” said Travis Griffith, North Linn baseball coach. “We’re going to attack it like we’re guinea pigs, but we have to make it work.
“We can’t screw this up because then it will affect things on the street.”
The training will be drastically different from what it was in the past. Temperatures are recorded before training. If they register 100.4 degrees or higher, they are not allowed to stay.
At Xavier, a coach greets the players and takes their temperature while they stay in their car. The North Linn coaches will be responsible for this and immediately list the results in a google doc. Cedar Rapids Washington coach Scott Brune said a representative will be on site to conduct tests.
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“Safety is a top priority,” said Brune. “It’s not just so for us, but across the state.”
Hygiene, disinfection, and social distancing continue to be emphasized, including hand disinfection and washing. Griffith said the prevailing thought was that clean hands are the best way to keep surfaces safe. Players must bring their own hand sanitizer in addition to the sanitary facilities provided by the schools.
Dugout canoe is not used for practice, so the player and coach are the appropriate 6 feet apart. The players will wash and disinfect their hands before training. The drink breaks also include hygiene.
“There will be a lot more organizational stuff on the ends of the coaches to make this work,” Griffith said. “There will be some downtime (during practice).
“Coaches have to be responsible. We need to point this out to you (players) There are a lot fewer restrictions than I thought. “
Griffith said North Linn will assign a player to each pole along the first and third base fences. They are 8 feet apart and have plenty of room for your bags, gear, and water containers. Brune said players are asked to wear masks when social distancing is not an option.
Halter said coaches must spend extra time disinfecting equipment like baseball, screens, and buckets as some programs move from college to lower-level practices.
The aim is to maximize player time and keep everyone safe. This will likely be an evolving process with new guidelines and more efficient ideas. Communication between coaches, players and parents is also vital.
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“Each day will be a learning curve, figuring out what works, what doesn’t, and what is most beneficial for the kids, keeping them safe while making sure they are still having fun and having a positive experience,” said Brune. “I can’t imagine what what we do on the first day will look like what we do five days later or the next day.”
Griffith said his plans could vary based on opening practice. His original plan is to split the team between the individual stations for 15 to 20-minute stations with drinks and disinfection. Brune said he was considering limiting the number of players on the field to avoid clusters.
“Practices could be a little different,” said Brune. “I’ve been tossing around taking guys to my assistant coaches in shifts so that crowds don’t gather at once. It could be something we implement. More individual work instead of whole groups at once. “
Players are encouraged to bring their own gear and are discouraged from sharing anything from gloves to water bottles. Kyle Rodenkirk von Brune, Griffith, Halter and Linn-Mar said they were unaware that players were not going out due to the pandemic situation.
“We don’t want someone to do something with which they are uncomfortable,” said Halter. “This level can vary from school to school, from district to district.
“Ultimately, everyone has to understand that this is a new situation for everyone. We don’t have any other states or colleges that have played or come back. We’re the first to be back in terms of a team sport. We have a chance here, so we have to do whatever it takes. “
Notes: (319) 368-8679; [email protected]