By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
TROY — Since early March when practically everything began shutting down, Ohio’s children have been waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel.
Thursday, the first ray of sunshine may have finally broken through.
After Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s announcement during his press conference Thursday that low- and non-contact youth sports leagues could potentially resume activities on May 26, Troy Junior Baseball — which has been following the governor’s announcements and planning accordingly during the COVID-19 pandemic — began to solidify its own plans to return to action this summer, all while adhering to public health officials’ guidelines to ensure the children remain safe.
And, with the state’s children at home due to stay at home orders and the school buildings being closed since mid-March, the announcement was the first hopeful sign for them.
“It really is,” said Troy Junior Baseball President Shawn Waterman. “I was surprised. These kids have been waiting a long time for some sense of normalcy to return. It’s really exciting.”
Troy Junior Baseball’s season was scheduled to begin on April 25 but was left in limbo due to various orders by the governor’s office. Still, the organization never gave up hope that it would see children on the fields this summer.
“The TJB board developed several committees early on and has been meeting regularly to put together preparations for everything we’ve heard along the way,” Waterman said. “We’ve already developed policies and plan on adhering to social distancing guidelines. We’re still waiting for them to publish the state’s recommendations before publishing our own draft so we can make any changes that might need to be made.
“We have some teams that never even got to meet before things got shut down. We’re hoping to be able to start practices around May 26, and we expect to start playing baseball around mid-June, and we’re targeting completing our season by the end of July, because we don’t want to interfere with any fall sports.”
The players never gave up hope, either.
“At this point, we’ve received very few requests to drop out,” Waterman said. “There is still concern in the community of the coronavirus, and we understand. But we’re excited about baseball, and I believe the community is excited, too.”
Troy Junior Baseball will be doing all it can to address those concerns even after returning to the field.
“We are going to be practicing social distancing,” Waterman said. “We’ve had to adjust some of the rules, and we’re going to be asking the more vulnerable populations to stay home. People will also have to mind the six-foot distance between households. The closest thing to contact there will be will be when a runner gets tagged out at third base.
“We still want to and believe we can deliver the value of a good baseball season for the community this summer.”
Waterman said the board has been following all of the governor’s briefings and paying attention to every detail so it could formulate a plan to return this year, whenever that was to be allowed.
“As a board, some of our members said they would have been willing to play in October if they had to,” he said with a laugh. “It hasn’t been fun. And we’ll be very crammed and pushing ourselves to have a season in this short a time — but we definitely know we can do it.
“The blessing of working from home has been I’ve been able to watch all of these briefings and watch for nuggets of what we’ll need to do and when we could do it. We had a board meeting Wednesday night where we were reviewing our policy. We were expecting some kind of announcement Thursday.”
And once that announcement came, there was relief — and then action.
“At about 2:10 p.m. yesterday, my phone started blowing up,” Waterman said. “I feel like I can start sleeping again at night.”
Waterman also said to follow the Troy Junior Baseball group on Facebook, as well as the organization’s website, troyjuniorbaseball.com, for further updates, including when the official guidelines are released.
“It’s just an American thing. A summer without baseball and swimming just isn’t a summer at all,” Waterman said. “We’re excited, and the community’s excited. We’re still going to do everything that the government asks us to ensure that our players and their families remain safe. But it will be good to see baseball again.”
Contact Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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