Baseball BC moves to full-team outdoor practices, but no word on regional travel or league play

Trail Youth Baseball tries to salvage a brief season in light of other provinces return to play

Baseball BC announced on Friday, July 10 that it is moving to full team outdoor practices as part of its Phase 2 Return to Play Guidelines (RTP).

The move increases the number of players allowed on the field at one time from 10 players and two coaches, to full teams.

TYB president Jim Maniago was happy to get the players back on the field and now looks forward to playing intersquad games, but feels the process has been lacking, as the move doesn’t allow for league play or team travel within the region.

“At first the kids were really excited about seeing each other and getting on the field but as you can imagine, just practicing gets old,” said Maniago. “It’s going well and better than nothing, but it’s really frustrating when we look around and see kids playing in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Montana, Idaho and even some places in Washington, yet, we aren’t allowed.”

Related read: Trail Little League cancels season

Trail Youth Baseball (TYB) returned to the ball diamonds with hopes for an abbreviated season after Phase 3 of the Provincial Health Officer’s plan gave the go ahead for limited practice on June 24.

According to viaSport, the province’s governing body for amateur sport, plans for moving on to the next phase is under consideration.

“Regarding changes or updates, we are currently in dialogue with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture around updating the Guidelines to now address opportunities in travel for sport, contact in sport, and potential competition as we slowly move through this next phase as outlined in the government’s Restart Plan,” said Ninu Gill, director communications and engagement. “Like baseball, and other sports, viaSport is eager to bring sport back to communities in B.C. in a safe and appropriate way.”

Since a return to sport was permitted, TYB has seen a steady stream of players come out to the parks with two groups of Grade 7-9 kids and two groups of Grade 10-to-12s for modified play and practice.

Despite TYB requests for clarification, viaSport has been vague in their response and slow to act, says Maniago.

“We are told by viaSport that ‘We aren’t there yet’, but there is no clear direction what we are waiting for or when we might be given the go ahead. It would seem like we are as good as it’s going to be anytime soon in terms of the virus.”

By viaSport standards, sport in BC is only in Phase 2 and it may go until September. There is no concrete transition date, but a change to Phase 3 where “interclub or regional game play may be considered” is dependent on viaSport’s perception of how the province is handling COVID-19.

On July 1, the province lifted restrictions on travel within the province, yet, recommendations remain for individuals to be cautious about the number of people that they are coming into close contact.

“From the perspective of organized sport and bringing individuals together, we have put forth recommendations to government in which some activities within a region may be appropriate within certain environments and conditions,” said Gill. “We also recognize that all sports are not equal and that some activities, depending on circumstances, have a greater ability to comply with public health guidance. For some sports that are able to maintain physical distancing, there may be an ability to resume certain types of activities quicker than in some other sports.”

In Saskatchewan, all leagues were given the go ahead to play ball on June 29, with teams permitted to travel and play throughout the province.

On Wednesday, July 15, Alberta expanded its play to include regional teams as part of Phase 3 of its RTP.

“In other provinces they laid things out clearly ahead of time so things could be planned (practices as of this date, games as of this date, tournaments as of this date etc.),” said Maniago. “But in BC, it’s been extremely vague and non-committal which makes it almost impossible to have any type of plan in place.”

According to Gill, viaSport has submitted recommendations that are under review by provincial authorities.

“Once that process is completed, and like baseball, we hope that will be sooner rather than later, we will share any updates as quickly and broadly as possible.”

In the meantime, all Trail Youth Baseball and BC Baseball can do is wait for the update – and remain hopeful that they may yet hear the words … Play Ball!

“Our worry is that even if at some point approval is given to start playing games, there will be no lead time,” added Maniago. “So, if anything, it’ll be a last minute scramble with time running short in terms of weather heading into winter.

“It’s hard to keep kids motivated and committed when there is nothing to work towards.”

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