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Youth sports leagues work with municipalities to allow teams to play this summer

De Pere parks to open fully June 15.
De Pere parks to open fully June 15.(WBAY)
Published: May. 20, 2020 at 10:28 PM CDT
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The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is recommending all spring and summer youth sports be postponed or canceled in light of the pandemic.

That’s why the soccer fields and the baseball diamonds at Southwest Park in De Pere are empty.

However, youth sports organizations are working with municipalities to safely let players back on the field.

“Baseball is normal for so many kids, soccer is normal for so many kids, it's important to get them outside,” said Jonathan Webb, president of De Pere Baseball.

On Tuesday, the De Pere City Council voted in favor of a plan to open a number of city facilities.

Included are parks, which are earmarked to open on June 15. However there will be no open swim at Legion Pool.

“Right now their opening plans are limited groups to a maximum size of 50 and that's along with social distancing,” said De Pere Parks Director, Marty Kosobucki.

Webb says there are still many details and guidelines that need to be flushed out.

“It's impossible for us to say what the right number is. This is an opportunity for the City of De Pere and our organization to come together, be very proactive and come up with guidelines that maybe haven't been invented yet,” said Webb.

De Pere Baseball plans to start the season June 15 and go a little later into the summer.

But, the De Pere Rapides Youth Soccer Club is waiting a little longer.

“We're hoping to actually start the first week of July,” said Jim Westerman, vice president of the soccer club.

The organization has soccer teams in several communities around Green Bay and are planning to play a condensed season with little practice and a focus on games.

Westerman says it's been challenging working with different local governments to come up with a streamlined approach to opening the fields.

“There's a lot of unknowns and everybody has an opinion, so trying to get everyone to agree on moving forward in a specific direction; hopefully we can have a joint effort from the local communities on the decision that we have as well,” said Westerman.

Both organizations surveyed parents asking if they would still have their children participate in the sports leagues during the pandemic. Leaders say most parents said, game on.

“We’re trying to put the power in the hands of our families to make the decision of whether or not they want their kids to play,” said Webb. “We’ve had a couple of families tell us they’re just not comfortable having their kids play this summer, and that’s great, that’s your decision.”

The De Pere City Council plans to revisit the reopening plan at its June 2 meeting.

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