How Lethbridge baseball, BMX organizers are working to keep their members active amid COVID-19

Coronavirus: Summer sport organizations work to keep safety a priority
WATCH ABOVE: Lethbridge Little League and Lethbridge BMX have both seen a decline in membership this season, but they are following health guidelines to continue offering activities. Eloise Therien has more on what’s being done within the organizations to keep everyone safe and healthy.

When COVID-19 reached pandemic status in March 2020, many sports organizations decided to cancel their seasons altogether.

However, some sports in Lethbridge and area are still able to continue under Stage 2 of Alberta’s economic relaunch strategy.

“We were really excited at the start,” said coaching director of Lethbridge Little League Myles Fletcher.

“We were also pretty apprehensive because there were a lot of guidelines that we had to follow and we still have to follow in order to make this happen this summer.”

Read more: Alberta set to resume public mask distribution program on July 13

Fletcher, who has been immersed in baseball his entire life, coaches the Red Sox division for nine- and 10-year-olds. His son plays on the team and said parents and kids are glad to have activities outside once again.

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While many players returned for this season, Fletcher said the numbers have declined somewhat.

“Now that house league was pushed back a few months to the summer, people already had other summer plans,” Fletcher said. “So we are down a little bit in our membership.”

Read more: Financial impacts of COVID-19 sports cancellations in Alberta: ‘Money that can’t come back’

Alberta Health Services’ guidelines for sporting activities include the formation of cohorts, meaning up to 50 players are able to engage in activity without social distancing. It suggests this be done outside where possible and that people still attempt a two-metre distance.

For Lethbridge Little League, this means they can play games with smaller divisions. Instead of eight to 10 teams per division, Fletcher said they will have four.

“The reason for that is if something does happen to go wrong and somebody does fall ill, the traceability is a lot easier when you’re narrowing it down to 40 to 50 kids instead of 100 to 250,” Fletcher explained.

Any shared equipment, such as bats, is sanitized between use, and players must use their own gloves.

Read more: County of Warner sees spike in COVID-19 cases, possible link to funerals being investigated

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While Little League has high hopes for this summer, across the road at the Lethbridge BMX track, things are a little different.

Darren Williamson, president of Lethbridge BMX, said the decline in membership has been quite extreme.

“Our membership is down about two-thirds because of COVID,” Williamson said, adding this is partially due to the current inability to hold races or allow for coaching.

The price of racing is included in the membership, and while there’s now a chance local races could occur with the cohort rule, the low membership is holding them back from doing so.

“Everyone is pretty unhappy that there’s no racing because that’s what we’re all here for,” he said. “My concern is how [we] get them all back next year when this is hopefully all over.”

Williamson said the typical membership is more than 125 riders, and this year, the 45 who signed up are all committed to keeping up their skills until races can continue.