Dear Noon Optimist Little League Members:
A little more than 60 days ago, Noon Optimist Little League (NOLL) drafted its first public response to the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. During this two-month span, baseball was paused and the league was forced to operate under the guise of an “extended rain delay.”
Sadly, on May 13, and in response to the governor’s address, Lions Hondo announced their decision to cancel the 2020 baseball season. Against this backdrop, the NOLL Board of Directors met on May 14 to discuss the fate of our 2020 season.
After much discussion, the decision to try and play baseball this year was met with unanimous approval. After much back-and-forth, it was further decided to begin planning for a low-intensity, two-month season of games to begin on July 18. This date was purposefully arrived at to coincide with Phase 1-2 gating projections, increased UV exposure (yes, it will be hot), and the nadir of the traditional flu season.
Additionally, it was decided to include a “drop-dead” date of Aug. 1 in our planning. If due to COVID-related restrictions, games cannot begin by Aug. 1, we will cancel the season and issue partial refunds as outlined below. Worth noting, we are NOT planning a fall season for 2020.
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A safety committee has been formed and a safety plan is currently under development. Multiple states, including our own, have begun to address baseball in a COVID-19 world and we have been carefully analyzing these plans as they are made available. Little League International has provided its member leagues with a detailed “Season Resumption Guide,” which we intend to follow.
Without exception, all safety procedures will conform to the guidelines issued by our state and local officials and our governing body. Interestingly, a baseball tournament was played last week in the St. Louis region and both Texas and Oklahoma have multiple tournaments ongoing this weekend. Until we can gather more information pertaining to COVID-Safe Practices (CSP) and have properly trained all volunteers, NOLL-sanctioned practices remain explicitly prohibited. Expect more practice-related information to be forthcoming in the coming weeks.
Regarding refunds: NOLL will be providing partial refunds in the amount of $40 per player to any parent/guardian who does not wish for their player to participate in the 2020 season as described.
Once the refund process is determined and emails sent, we will begin addressing teams and attrition. I do not anticipate a redraft but that decision cannot yet be made. We have also contacted Lions Hondo and welcome players from their league as our numbers allow. Hopefully, more information on combined league options will be available next week.
Although we are in unchartered territory, our team of dedicated volunteers is committed to the safe return of our youth to the baseball diamond. This season is definitely going to be different! However, we fully expect to again be making baseball memories two months from today and I eagerly anticipate the first “Play ball!” of 2020!
By Steve Dodson
Special to the RDR Sports