While not perfect, Summit County youth sports associations content with restarts | SummitDaily.com

While not perfect, Summit County youth sports associations content with restarts

The 2 V's Landscaping Athletics pose together for a celebratory team photo after winning the championship game of the majors division playoffs to cap the 2020 Summit Youth Baseball summer season at Kingdom Park in Breckenridge.
Antonio Olivero / aolivero@summitdaily.com

DILLON — With high school team sports shutting down once again in Summit County, directors of local outdoor youth sports leagues reflected on how the restart of their associations and organizations went this summer and fall amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Summit Youth Baseball had hundreds of local youth play on local and traveling teams this summer and fall. The association’s president, Steve Misch, said he personally felt the return to baseball was a success. He said many parents thought the association did a good job with virus measures and protocols, though some were more critical.

“It was good for the kids — for their body and their mind — to be outside,” Misch said. “I wouldn’t say by any means we were perfect. But we definitely tried to follow all the COVID protocols with masks and social distancing and I think, again, we weren’t perfect, but I think we did a good job.”

Misch said Summit Youth Baseball stressed to players and parents to stay home if they felt sick. He said there were times youth players did not play or practice due to feeling sick, contact tracing or positive COVID-19 tests throughout the summer. He added that, to his knowledge, there were no outbreaks attributable to baseball. He also acknowledged that there were times during the summer players and coaches didn’t wear masks in the dugout “100% of the time,” which was one of the county public health department’s guidelines.

He feels the fact that so many baseball games were able to be held without any known outbreaks is a sign that carefully hosting outdoor youth sports is safe.

“We had hundreds of kids outside all summer and fall and we didn’t get anything,” Misch said. “The cases I’ve heard were indoors. …I think being outdoors makes sense.

While baseball was able to host games in Summit County, Matty Marks and his 10th Mountain Lacrosse youth lacrosse league hosted its programming in Eagle County, where COVID-19 restrictions were less stringent.

The program and Marks, the head coach of boy’s lacrosse at Summit High School, gathered top youth players from various mountain communities to play together and compete against each other in Vail. While multiple lacrosse players tested positive for COVID-19 through the summer, Marks said there was no cross contamination between players and the players who tested positive did not contract the virus playing lacrosse. He said he felt the program did a good job communicating to players to stay home if they had COVID-19 symptoms.

“Out distancing was enough at the field,” Marks said. “Moving forward, with higher rates (of virus cases) and all this happening right now, we are seeing that there might be another pivot we need to make. There’s an opportunity for face shields that go over (lacrosse) face masks or helmets that enclose everything.”

Marks said he’s not sure when the next time his program will be able to practice or play the game they love in Summit County — with the county’s virus numbers and rules regulating contact sports like lacrosse.

Andrea Rosenthal, the outgoing executive director for the High Country Soccer Association, said she’s happy local kids got the chance to socialize with friends and get the “cognitive action they needed” through their summer and fall programming here in Summit. Rosenthal said outside of positive tests and quarantine orders for players administered by the Summit School District, she was unaware of any instances of positives tests or spread of the virus within the soccer program.

She said through the summer there were some practice sessions that had low player turnout, as players and parents were instructed to stay home if they felt COVID-19 symptoms or were mandated to quarantine by the county. After training sessions began in July, Rosenthal said gameplay resumed in mid-August. She said seven teams elected not to have travel seasons while two did. Those two teams were able to play full 11-versus-11 games away, while at home teams had to play 9-versus-9 — the maximum due to Summit County rules.

Rosenthal highlighted how the association was one of two soccer clubs in the state to give 100% refunds to those who decided not to play due to the virus and was ultimately happy with how the season played out.

“Given all the challenges and everything going on, to have over 300 kids successfully play soccer all fall with snow shutting us down and not COVID, I think it was tremendously successful,” Rosenthal said.

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