With Gov. Andrew Cuomo announcing Sunday, June 14, that low-risk youth sports could begin July 6 in regions of the state that are in Phase Three, it appears that some of the area’s boys and girls of summer still may grace their respective fields.
Cuomo’s announcement during the day’s daily briefing identified baseball, softball, gymnastics, field hockey, cross country and crew as “low-risk” sports that would be able to begin the first Monday of next month. So while youth sports were largely canceled for the summer, leagues in those sports may now be looking for ways to salvage the summer.
“We are still trying to get some details around Gov. Cuomo’s announcement yesterday,” Otsenango PONY League President Eileen Lawyer told The Daily Star on Monday. “If nothing more, we absolutely are going to plan for a fall season. If things were going to open up quicker, depending on how coaches could get things together, we could probably do something quicker.”
Lawyer said that whether teams would be allowed to use school facilities was the biggest obstacle in identifying when teams would be able to get back on fields. Most of the league’s teams use school facilities, she said.
NYSPHSAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Zayas said in a tweet Sunday that Cuomo’s announcement did not include “interscholastic or school-based athletics,” which previous policies had reserved for a Phase Four restart. Lawyer said she was seeking outside input on what that might mean for youth teams hoping to use school facilities.
Legion baseball may be able to make a late-season return as well. When the state legion baseball tournaments were canceled May 6, Oneonta Green Wave coach Mike Jester said he was hopeful the team would be able to have some sort of regular-season play. He also said at the time that he had put together a schedule to play over four weeks in July if restrictions were lifted.
“We have some optimism, some hope, to maybe play some kind of baseball in July,” he said in May. He could not be reached for comment on this story.
Lawyer sent an email to coaches announcing the cancellation of the summer PONY program on May 20, in which she said it would be the first time in more than 50 years that there was no summer PONY program. In the email, she also looked to gauge interest in a fall program to replace the canceled summer season.
“We are definitely doing the fall. There’s high interest,” Lawyer said. “Depending on when high school athletic fields are available, that may change that date. If we can do something sooner, we will.”