As with just about everything in this pandemic, the future of minor baseball in Squamish has been stamped with a question mark.
Bri Oliver, president of the Howe Sound Minor Ball Association, said that the season was cancelled when COVID-19 arrived, and organizers are trying to figure out the next step now that things are opening up again.
“There would be a lot of pieces of the puzzle that would have to come together all at once,” said Oliver.
Normally, players from about 30 teams in the league would be hitting the fields from May to June.
However, Oliver said that when the decision to cancel was made in April, it was unclear if enough volunteers would be able or willing to offer up their time in the middle of a pandemic.
She said it was a hard decision.
“We just felt with a short season that it would be fairly hard to make it happen,” said Oliver. “It does require a lot of volunteers. And we were worried about getting commitment from volunteers if that was to happen. And then, there’s no way we could with a two week warning — there’s too much stuff that would need to be put in place to get things going.”
As the restrictions begin to ease, the organization is playing with the idea of perhaps holding some competitions later this year.
“I think baseball is a unique sport where social distancing works to an extent but sharing the baseball, that turns into a thing; sharing bats, that turns into a thing; and there is contact,” said Oliver.
She said they’ll be looking into finding methods that will still hopefully give young athletes the chance to play the sport.
Another possible challenge, she noted, is adhering to the 50-person gathering limit.
For older players, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but for younger kids who start at age five, there will likely have to be parents around, which could make this a challenge, Oliver said.
However, there’s one concern that’s at the top of the list.
“There’s a lot of things that need to be taken into effect, and probably the biggest one is access to fields,” said Oliver. “So we’re really limited to what the District of Squamish says or what the government says about field use.”
When the organization decided to cancel the season this year, they didn’t have access to the fields. They also didn’t have access to the baseball equipment that was being stored at Brennan Park, as the municipality shut that facility down because of the pandemic.
“They all kind of have to fall into place — things that are out of our control — before we can start trying to make things work,” she said.
District staff say that its recreation services department will begin discussions with sports associations this week to discuss plans for re-convening play.