By Darryl G. Smart
That was a phrase used often the last couple of days with a huge sigh of relief, after the Ontario government placed the province in Step 2 of the Roadmap to Reopen on June 30.
In Step 2 of the reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor sports games, leagues and events at 25% capacity could begin. With that, local baseball and soccer organizations began to feverishly work overtime to get started.
And on Monday, to the happiness of many, the Southern Counties Baseball Association and Inter County Baseball Association schedules began for the first time since September 2019.
“Everyone is very excited about baseball games being played again,” Simcoe Minor Baseball Association president and coach Jeff Shortt said. “The SMBA executive worked very hard over the winter and spring to be able to offer the program currently being offered to house league and rep players.”
And it wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the small army of volunteers. Shortt said they’ve needed volunteers to step up for things like the ONDeck online check-in, and to make sure players sanitize between innings, as part of the COVID-19 protocols.
“Without the solid group of volunteers on the SMBA executive as well as all the coach volunteers who have stepped up, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Shortt said as he watched games around him at Lions Park Tuesday. “Across all our divisions we have almost 100 people volunteering this year, as with Covid protocols, we needed more than just coaches.”
Caledonia Minor Baseball president Ryan Van Sickle agreed and is very thankful for the parents stepping up.
“We were obviously very excited when we heard baseball was back,” Van Sickle said. “We were in scramble mode for uniforms but everything else was already in place and ready to go because of all the outstanding volunteers Caledonia Minor Baseball has.”
NUMBERS SHOW KIDS MISS SPORT
Lions Park in Simcoe on Tuesday was a perfect example of the joy of their sport. You can tell by the looks on the players faces and smiles, regardless of the score on the parents and family members face.
Shortt and Van Sickle said you can tell people were champing at the bit to just get out there and play. Both associations have seen huge numbers as far as registration is concerned.
“We actually had a record registration for the 2021 season,” Van Sickle said. “We are now offering teams for U9 to U18.”
Shortt said they had close to 300 players ready to get back to what they love.
In Delhi, president Adrienne Reddecopp, like everyone else, can’t stop smiling.
“I’m definitely happy to be back on the diamond. I love seeing the kids and parents year after year,” Reddecopp said. “We do finally have a rookie rep team making its comeback in Delhi. Derek Crandall has put a lot of work into putting this team together to help rebuild Rep in Delhi.”