JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The Arkansas Department of Health updated their COVID-19 directive for community and school sponsored team sports.
It allowed the first youth baseball and softball games to be played since the pandemic. The Junior High League was in action Monday at the Southside Softball Complex. The 11 team league features Nettleton, Valley View, Westside, GCT, Paragould, Wynne, Harrisburg, Riverside, Bay, BIC, & Kennett. Southside Softball Coordinator Karla Marroquin is navigating through it all, she’s thrilled that it’s Opening Night.
“It’s not as open, it’s less restrictive,” Marroquin added. “We are opening dugouts, we are opening concession stands and bathrooms. But they are all getting sanitized. Coaches are bringing hand sanitizer for their players, parents are being recommended to bring their own lawn chairs and line around the foul lines and around the outfield fences.”
Monday marked the first day high school sports could work out on campus. Greene County Tech & Paragould football were among several NEA schools that did conditioning work. Both head coaches are getting used to a new normal.
“It’s still conditioning, it’s still weights,” said GCT head football coach Nathan Morgan. “They’re not all in here as a big group getting it done in a few hours, we gotta spread it out throughout the day. But it still doesn’t change the coaching points and trying to get them to do what we need them to do. Just a little bit of space and making sure they’re wearing their masks when they’re supposed to be. And not spreading this thing and getting it worse, so we can get to playing in the fall.”
Rams head coach Michael Sloas added “We had these masks out and kids were looking around like what is this. Then we told them how it was going to be done. They can take these masks off when they’re working out or spotting, you gotta have your mask on for different things like that. Hopefully they’ll adjust well. We’re just so glad to be around the kids. When we start throwing the football around next week, it’ll be something different. We have to watch our social distancing. There will be some parts that are challenging, but I think we’ll adjust.”
The ADH 6/1 directive allows locker rooms to be used for storing personal items. Social distancing remains in place with 6-12 feet between athletes depending on the situation. Team practice is prohibited for close contact sports like football & basketball, but they can condition and workout in small groups.
Athletes are advised to use their own equipment. It also allows a ball to be thrown back and forth as long as the athletes remain 12 feet from each other. Bands are allowed to practice marching and use non-wind instruments.
You can view the entire ADH directive here.