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Youth Sports in Limbo
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2020-03-25

Local baseball, softball and soccer programs on hold to concerns over COVID-19

 

Concerns over COVID-19 have kept the baseball fields at Kistler-Bitting Park in 

East Greenville empty. 

 

            The 60th season of the Upper Perkiomen Youth Baseball remains in limbo due to concerns over COVID-19. Practice was supposed to start this week. Games were expected after Easter, according to President Paul Verna.

            "We're in a holding pattern," he said. "We can't really do much."

            Almost 300 players have signed up for the program, which provides instruction and competition for children aged five to 12 at five separate levels. According to Verna, the organization has not collected any of the player fees, which ranges from $100 for Quick Ball – an introduction to baseball and fundamentals for four- and five-year-olds – to $135 for the minor and major league levels.

            "We have a waiting list," he said. "We don't want to take anyone's money."

            According to Verna, the organization won't be able to utilize its fields at Kistler-Bitting Park until the YMCA – which owns the property – until the state government lifts its ban on mass gatherings due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. He said the league especially can't wait to utilize the new upgrades to its field near the park's basketball courts.

            Since last season, the UPYBA has spent several thousand dollars leveling the field for the major and minor leagues, as well as building new dugouts, laying down new sod and constructing a retaining wall behind home plate, according to the league president.

            Verna also said the organization hopes to invite back all former league presidents and coaches who wanted to be honored. But all that planning has stopped.

            "It's all on hold," he said.

            The Upper Perkiomen Girls Softball League – which usually plays its games at Camelot Park in Upper Hanover and the Upper Perkiomen 4th and 5th Grade Center in East Greenville – has suspended its operations indefinitely. Practice normally stats no later than the first week of April, according to league vice president Ben Eden. He said the games were scheduled to start April 27.

            "We haven't canceled the season," Eden said Tuesday morning. "We're hoping that we have the ability to get some season in. The safety of everyone involved is of utmost importance."

            Approximately 80 girls between the ages of five of 14 have signed up to participate in the league, which expects to field eight teams, as well as a 12U and 14U travel team. According to league president Carlie Bearn, each team is scheduled to play at least 10 to 12 games during the spring season. She said officials have discussed extending the current season past June 13, its scheduled end, should it start late.

            "At this point, we're taking our guidance from the school district and the state," Bearn said.

            The Valley Soccer Club's Spring Intramural League is currently in wait-and-see mode, according to club President Kyle Fisher. He said club officials sent an email to its members that the league, which usually kicks off in the first week of May, may start later than originally hoped.

            "We're operating as if the season is going to happen," Fisher said Tuesday afternoon adding that the club is at the mercy of the U.S. Youth Soccer and the East Penn Youth Soccer Association, its two governing bodies.

            According to Fisher, club officials are considering all options to facilitate a season for approximately 350 and 380 boys and girls between the ages of three and 15. He said they might end up reducing the number of games, which is normally 10 per team, or truncate the four-week preseason practice time. Concerns over the novel coronavirus has also suspended the play the club's eight or nine travel teams, some of which debuted this month.

 

            "We're hoping to have some kind of a season," Fisher said. "All options are on the table."

 


 

 

 

 

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