Lethbridge Little League taking registrations, ‘hopeful’ for 2021 season despite COVID-19 uncertainty

Lethbridge Little League sign off of Stafford Drive N near Dave Elton Park. Eloise Therien / Global News

For the last two weeks, the Lethbridge Little League Baseball Association has been taking registrations for its house league programs, and will continue to do so until March 12.

However, with current provincial COVID-19 restrictions putting a tight grip on both indoor and outdoor sports, it’s not know exactly when or how they will be able to resume.

According to the province’s website, indoor sports are prohibited unless they involve a post-secondary student or are part of a student’s education, and “outdoor team sports must also be limited to 10 people or fewer and 2 metre distancing must be maintained at all times.”

President Travis Oberg said they are going ahead with registration in the hopes things will change, and they will be able to go ahead under similar protocol as was in place in 2020.

“We’re hoping–and time will tell–that when we get closer to the spring, that governments will start lifting those restrictions, especially for the outdoor sports,” he said.

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

Last season, the league had a delayed start to the season due to COVID-19. Once it began, a safety plan was developed by Little League Alberta that helped players and their families stay healthy while still participating in the sport.

Oberg said by creating rules for cohorts, sanitization, and screening, the season went very well despite being pushed back into the summer.

“By implementing those guidelines right out and indicating a zero-tolerance policy, it supported the play for all of the players in every level throughout the year,” he said. “The biggest proponent with baseball is it’s traditionally a social-distanced sport.”

Typically, the Lethbridge Little League sees roughly 700-725 players aged four to 16 registered in its programs, according to Oberg. Last year, there was a drop in numbers with only 453 players signing up.

Read more: Lethbridge minor sports associations waiting, pushing potential season end dates

However, things are looking promising as registration for 2021 kicks off.

“Right now the registrations are on pace to see numbers for 2019,” he said. “We usually start seeing a spike in February with a lot of registrations starting to flow.”

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Should the season not be able to go ahead, Oberg says the league will be offering refunds for families–minus a $25 registration fee.

In the hopes of attracting more young players to the sport, fees for T-Ball (ages four and five) and Coach Pitch (ages six and seven) have been reduced by $25.

“That’s what I look forward to the most, is seeing these kids return to activity and sports, enjoying the fresh outdoors as well.”

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