Local youth travel softball team heads back to practice, implements precautions

News

MCALLEN, Texas — After months of waiting, youth sports teams can head back to the fields.

For the last 20 years, Kevin Kanipe has coached RGV Heat, a local travel softball team.

While his team is getting back to work right away, he is the pandemic left an impact.

“Today’s our first official day where you’re supposed to legally be able to practice as a group,” Knipe explained, “We would have our first tournament this summer next week. But we’re just now being able to start practicing so it’s going to push back our start time a little bit.”

With a delayed start also comes a new set of safer rules that includes only one parent allowed at practice and social distancing protocols applied for those watching the games.

“Between games, we have to sanitize the dugouts when we’re finished. Between innings they recommend the kids using hand sanitizer, each team needs to provide their own clean softballs. Usually, in the past we’d have a jug of water in the dugout that we’d provide that’s no longer acceptable as well,” Knipe added.

So, what does this mean for travel? Coach Lino Luna from South Texas Kaos said that option was left open to parents.

“My older girls, 18 youth are going to travel, we’ve discussed it with their parents,” explained Luna, “One of my players, their dad is a doctor and I spoke to him beforehand. He said we just have to take the precautions, masks, hygiene.”

Both coaches Kanipe and Luna said the changes will take some getting used to but agree that it is what needs to be done to get these athletes back on the field.

“I told the parents, ‘let’s take care of our own selves and follow the rule ourselves we can’t worry about others not following the rules’ so we’re going to be taking care of ourselves,” Luna said.

While many city parks wait to reopen several sports teams are finding different areas they can practice at in the meantime.

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