Youth sports gearing up for activities among pandemic

SNOHOMISH, Wash. – Both Pierce and Snohomish counties are now allowed to move into Phase 2 of Governor Inslee’s plan to reopen the state.

Part of Phase 2 means youth sports can get back into the game but with serious restrictions meant to keep COVID-19 from spreading.

Public and private sports leagues are paying close attention to the guidelines and in some cases rethinking what games could look like.

But some private clubs need big crowds to help fundraise – which leaves big questions unanswered for tournaments planned for later this fall.

“It’s going to take a while to get back into the same routine,” said 14-year-old Solomon Perera who has spent much of the past few weeks practicing soccer with his brother in their back yard.

Both are active with Snohomish Youth Soccer Club and are eager to get back, but for their mother it’s not as easy of a decision.

“Let’s just get out there get the immunity going, there’s that side,” said Shelly Perera. “Then there’s, let’s hang on a little longer and wait and see. And I’m in the middle of both.”

“Even though we have to go through these protocols, you’ve got to make sure the children are safe,” said coach Anthony Sardon.

Sardon says the club has already missed some fundraisers during the lockdown. Now he and his fellow coaches are working on Phase 2 requirements that limit players to groups of 5 in parts of the field and ensuring no-contact practices when kids return to the soccer fields in Snohomish.

What’s more, says Sardon, future fundraising could also be up in the air as tournaments planned for later this year could bring in thousands of people.

“I think communities are better when kids are out and learning the great things you can learn from sport,” said Sardon.

"Football is the one that has the biggest question mark,” said Mick Hoffman from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.

Phase 2 does not allow school sports to resume and Hoffman says his agency is also scrambling to envision what high school sports look like in the fall.

“If you’re in Phase 4 or 2 it might look a little different, he said. “How different we don’t know yet.”

While kids are likely ready to get back to normal, Solomon’s mother seems ready as well as long as her kids are safe.

Youth clubs will be required to abide by sanitizing, hand-washing and social distancing protocols along with developing a ‘return to play’ plan. Parents will also be required to abide by the same restrictions.