VALLEY — First Athens, then Sayre. In the span of a few days, our local Little League seasons took two big shots.
Both wanted to play full schedules, but in statements posted on Facebook, each has come to the difficult decision to pull the plug on the season.
The statements were similar.
Athens’ statement reads, in part … “We regret to inform you, that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Athens Little League has decided to cancel the 2020 Little League season.”
Both noted that there were too many unknowns to go forward.
Sayre’s statement added that … “it obviously impacts schedules differently in attempts to push the season back to whenever we may be able to play.”
Athens made the note that the organization didn’t want to “keep parents guessing all summer.”
Little League had already decided to scuttle the Little League World Series, and other levels of the postseason had also been set aside for this year.
What both leagues are doing for area youth, though, is giving those who want to play an outlet.
Sayre will conduct baseball and softball clinics “when conditions permit” for ages 9-14. As Sayre’s announcement put it, “younger groups are not prone to social distancing.”
Both plan to offer “sandlot days” with coaches available when they can safely get back on their fields.
It isn’t ideal, but both leagues did what they could to try to keep the season alive and the leagues’ board members are to be commended for putting the players first, both in terms of making the tough call to end the season before it began and to stay involved in the game for those willing and able to play.
Commendations are also due north of the border, where Waverly has made a different choice and is planning to play later in the summer.
“We are planning to have a season. We’re just waiting for New York State to allow us to open up,” said Waverly Little League President Cory Robinson. “Right now, we (recreation) are part of Phase 4.”
That means that, if progress continues to be made in the Southern Tier — which is now in Phase 1 — the Little League could start up operations in late June. The other Little Leagues in District 6 are also working under the same guidelines which means that, while nothing has been etched in stone, there could even be a District 6 tournament.
Each phase should last for two weeks, which would make the June 26 date possible.
Robinson said that they’ve been on the path toward playing a season from the beginning.
“As a board, we’ve been consistent that we’re going to do everything we can to get a season in, even if that means playing in July and August,” said Robinson. “As long as the state allows us we will get a season in.”
One thing that Robinson cited as a plus was that the support from parents and business haven’t waned.
“We’re pretty optimistic that we can get a season in.”