By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
Baseball Oshawa is slowly making its way back to the diamond – with some limitations.
According to Baseball Oshawa President Ken Babcock, the season can only begin under provincial approval, but there are restrictions in place allowing a certain number of players and coaches to be at the diamond for team training.
“Right now, we’re in possession of permits to start team training for our rep programs,” explains Babcock. “Rep teams have been out on the diamonds following the guidelines.”
Babcock says there are a number of guidelines and protocols in place to follow which ensure a maximum of 10 people are at the diamond at one time, including coaches and players.
“We’re managing around that, but we’ve returned to the diamond,” he says.
He says the feedback they’ve gotten regarding the number of people allowed on the diamond at once has been positive.
“They’re just so excited to be back on the diamond. There’s lots of smiles, parents are excited to see their child back out on the diamond doing something that they love to do, and of course the coaches are too,” he says.
Each team has been provided sanitation kits, washing station items, and more in order to help protect players and coaches from COVID-19.
Before going to the diamond, every player had to sign a number of waivers from Baseball Ontario, Baseball Oshawa, and the provincial government, he says.
“In addition, under the guidelines, there’s an attendance tracker system that’s required. Each player and coach has to complete it,” says Babcock.
This will help if a case of COVID-19 were to pop up amongst the players, as they would be able to track who was there at what time, and who might have been exposed.
Players and coaches must also wash their hands before every training session, so soap stations and disinfectant kits have been provided to every team.
There will also be a break every 30 minutes where players and coaches will need to go wash their hands.
“It’s a good time for a water break as well before they return to the diamond for team training,” says Babcock, adding they have to wash their hands one last time before returning home.
Players are also prohibited from sharing water and food, including sunflower seeds, and coaches have to maintain and manage drills while also adapting to social distancing.
“So far everyone’s up to the challenge,” says Babcock.
Babcock says the organization is hoping to see games and competitions begin soon.
“We’re waiting, like everybody else, for Stage 3, and we’re hoping that happens sooner rather than later,” he says.
The schedule will then be formed, and teams will be back on the diamond playing games “once they’re allowed to” under provincial protocols and guidelines.
However, COVID-19 has seen some consequences for Baseball Oshawa, as they are down 500 house league players, and there are only 300 house league players returning to the diamond.
“We have lost players… all sports organizations have been faced with these uncertainties,” he says.
On the rep side, Babcock says approximately 20 players didn’t return to the diamond, which amounts to 10 per cent of those who originally signed up to play.
“We respect that. We’re working with everyone to satisfy everyone’s goals and needs, and return to baseball safely,” he says. “But we also know that some had to make a difficult decision, and we’ll certainly welcome them back next year.”
For more information, visit baseballoshawa.ca.