Tips for sports parents navigating an uncertain summer

Tips for sports parents navigating an uncertain summer

With stay-at-home mandates canceling and postponing much of the busy summer calendar for competitive and youth sports organizations, here is some advice from local coaches and league administrators on how to navigate the uncertainty:

Expect different return dates for different sports: Once athletes are allowed back on the field, don't expect a universal return. Contact sports like lacrosse or soccer or basketball are considered riskier than baseball, which has already returned in Missouri.

Mike McCall, Yorktown/UNC graduate, and founder of the Predators Lacrosse Club, talks about how the quarantine is effecting the teams operations and future while in Purchase May 21, 2020. (Photo: Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News)

"You are going to have 11 players on the field really confined within a 20-by-20 yard space," Predators Lacrosse founder Mike McCall said. "That is going to be difficult. They're going to be breathing heavy on the field and then you've got to deal with how do you manage the sidelines. If you have 10 players sitting on the sideline are you gonna space them out and say, 'Hey, that's the way it should be, but when you get on the field you've got to get up in that guy's grill?" It's just counter-intuitive.

"Then what you do with the coaches? When we bring everybody into a huddle, right? A lot of our coaches have young families, so when you have 10 guys breathing on you in the center of a huddle and you're in tight, explaining strategy, you're putting them at risk too."

Putnam Valley High School coach Kristi Dini, who is the founder of New York Extreme Hoops, says parents and players need to be stay patient and keep their eyes open for updates as the reopening progresses. 

Be flexible and patient: It's been a strange year and sudden changes in scheduling are probably no longer a surprise. Most tournaments and showcases are being pushed back to the end of summer. Even though the recruiting window is shrinking, optimism remains high that there will be some semblance of a travel season, even if it's a shortened one. Remain ready to play.

Some of the league rules will be relaxed, allowing kids to join the teams of neighboring towns if there aren't enough participants of that age group in their own town, said Matt Filancia, New York commissioner of the Babe Ruth League.

"We keep updating (players and parents), as we're updated," Putnam Valley coach and New York Extreme Hoops founder Kristi Dini said. "The bigger tournament companies, like Zero Gravity, have been frequently updating us and as we're getting those, we're updating the parents. Whenever we're allowed to work, we're going to make something happen."

Weigh the risk: Put family and community health first. Even with the current state ban on team games and practices, Brian Horos, East Fishkill Youth Soccer president, noted one local travel soccer club has held practices.

“These stupid parents, my wife and I don’t even allow our kids to see their friends (now)," he said. "I just don’t understand it. I’m just dumbfounded at the insanity."

Dutchess Monarchs and Northern Dutchess Girls Lacrosse director Dan Schmitt may hold his own kindergartner and second-grader out if summer lacrosse camps are allowed to proceed.

“I wouldn’t be very confident," he said. "If we got the go-ahead in a couple weeks, my wife and I would have some trepidation about sending our kids to a camp with 30-40 kids.”

Support via live stream: With limited or no fan attendance policies expected to take place at certain venues, be prepared to show support remotely. Some tournaments will compensate by live streaming their games so families can still watch. 

"When you go to a tournament or you go to an event, it's kind of a family outing where there may be five people in a family," East Coast Drive softball club founder Natalie Traina said. "There are five more people in that park with each player, so that's something that can change. ... A lot of the events we go to personally for ECD softball, it's going to be on the computer where it's streamed to family that's working or that can't come. I think you're gonna see a lot more fans streaming, than actual live, in-person fans."


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