Not every sport is canceled in the Chanute community due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Chanute Recreation Commission plans to have sports this summer, albeit on a more limited basis due to COVID-19. Working in unison for the direction of summer rec sports, CRC Sports Director Jordan Richards, Facility Director Bill Myers, Director Monica Colborn, and former Director Todd Newman confirmed that baseball, softball and T-ball for boys and girls ages 4-13 will be happening in the hotter, coming months.
Those interested can register in person from noon to 6 pm Monday through Friday at the Chanute rec center, 400 S. Highland Ave. The deadline to sign up is May 31. Registrations can also be submitted online at chanuteks.myrec.com by logging in or creating an account, then clicking on “Register” at the top of the page.
“For us, we want to give the community a chance to play,” Richards said. “With everything going on, obviously, I’m sure their parents have been going cuckoo with everyone staying at home. But it’s kind of like, we’ve contacted other recreations, we’re kind of all on the same page. We want to make sure every kid is safe, and umpires, parents, everybody. But we want to give these kids a chance to play.
“I know what the circumstances are. It’ll look a little different this season, obviously, but like I said, we just want to give these kids a chance to get out there and enjoy the sport.”
While Richards hopes to start games at the end of June, play will be contingent upon the reopening phases of the state.
Governor Laura Kelly Tuesday said that Kansas would be allowed to enter the modified Phase 2 on Friday. This phase includes the reopening of casinos, theaters, bowling alleys and museums, and permits the return to organized sports activities. But the statewide gathering limit will go up to just 15 people from the current limit of 10.
Phase 2 also allows organized sports facilities, practices and tournaments to begin Friday. Those activities must comply with social distancing requirements and guidelines set by Kansas Parks and Recreation. The guide can be found on https://bit.ly/2zcKmNr.
Kelly said if Kansas continues to show improvement in the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, Phase 3’s projected start date would be June 8, earlier than the initial June 15 date. In the third phase, mass gatherings would be limited to 45 people, including other provisions for businesses.
With these guidelines in mind, Richards said he and his staff will likely remove bleachers as well as taking other precautions. Chanute’s recreation sports teams will also only compete in town.
“I’ve talked to other recs, and some are iffy, and some are like, ‘yeah, we’ll do it as long as other recs are doing the same thing.’ But we’ve decided that we’re just going to stay and play amongst each other,” Richards said.
Last year, a good number of kids signed up, which made it easier to schedule games for Chanute players because there were multiple divisions. But there were often extra games scheduled outside of Chanute in years past, traveling to nearby places like Parsons or Iola.
But with the pandemic, those traveling plans will halt, and the rec will need a boatload of kids to sign up to have as much competition as possible.
“If we double in our registration, we should have plenty of teams to play each other five or six times,” Richards estimated. “But like I said, who knows with everything going on? We never know.
“I think it would be great. Honestly, I think that’s what the public is looking forward to the most. That’s what we all look forward to the most here, getting back to normal.
“I mean, obviously it’s going to take some time. But I mean sports revolves around a lot of people’s lives. Them just being able to play out there, or a dad or mom being able to watch their kids, definitely would change the mood of everybody.”