Youth sports back in the game

File photoGreenville’s Jazzmin Gibson swings at a pitch against Chatham in the Section II, Class C championship in this May 30, 2018 file photo.

ALBANY — Local youths may finally get to have some fun this summer, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo announcing that low-risk youth sports will be permitted during phase 3.

The Capital District Region, which includes Columbia and Greene counties, is slated to enter Phase 3 on Wednesday.

The approved low-risk sports include baseball, softball, gymnastics, field hockey, crew and cross country. These activities can resume July 6 and spectators will be limited to two per child, according to the governor’s office.

Some families were disappointed to see that soccer did not make the list, Rip Van Winkle Soccer Club President Patricia Gibson said.

“It was a 50/50 mix,” she said. “Some people are very nervous to be out in any numbers. Others were calling and asking what we are able to do.”

The recreational summer soccer program is open to youths ages 4 to 18 and primarily serves local residents, Gibson said.

“We have about 125 to 150 kids,” she said, adding that about 90% are from the Catskill and Cairo-Durham areas.

The club’s six-week season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were going to play on our new field this year,” Gibson said, referring to the club’s field at the Angelo Canna Town Park in Cairo.

“It was very disappointing,” she said.

The club is working to put together a summer camp Aug. 17-21, Gibson said.

“I know a lot of the towns are trying to do similar thing,” she said. “The kids need to have something to get them outdoors to get rid of their pent up energy. The kids are really missing it. That’s the sad part. They’re missing their friends, they miss the competitions. They enjoy being outdoors.”

When soccer and other sports are permitted to resume, organizers will have to take safety precautions, Gibson said.

“It might look a little different,” she said. “They’re being very safe, which is a good thing.”

Additionally, the club not only has to wait for approval from the state but also from its insurance company, Gibson said.

Gibson said she did not understand the rationale behind field hockey being permitted, as it is similar to soccer.

“I was a little confused about field hockey because it is very similar to soccer and lacrosse,” she said. “The other sports I understand, you’re just competing against yourself and time.”

For Catskill Little League, Sunday’s announcement leaves an opportunity to salvage the season.

“We held out hope for long as possible,” Little League Vice President Dan Shanley said. “We were putting feelers out for a few weeks, to have plan in place if it did happen.”

Although the regular season, which runs from April to June was lost, Shanley is collaborating with other local leagues to try and pull together a meaningful season.

“We are trying to get a plan in place for a July-August season, whether it is in-house or a travel-based season with other leagues. I have been sending messages out to each team to get answers on players that will be in for. Either way we will throw something together.”

Catskill’s league typically has about 140 to 160 participants, Shanley said.

The loss of the season is felt even more by youth aging out of Little League, Shanley said.

“They start in T-ball and work all the way up,” he said. “It’s sad for the 12-year-olds aging out. This is the last year on Elliott Park. Next year they move up to Ricky Cramer.”

So far, there has been good feedback from kids who want to play later in the summer, Shanley said.

“There are a lot of kids who want to play and families who are looking forward to it,” he said. “I’m getting a lot of positive feedback.”

A baseball camp for youths ages 11 and up is being held June 22-26 at the Angelo Canna Town Park. To register visit

Despite some uncertainty, the Catskill Community Center’s summer recreation program will be taking place as scheduled. The program, which is for children in kindergarten through fifth grade, runs Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.- 5 p.m., July 6- August 21.

Cuomo announced June 2 that day camps would be allowed to open. New protective measures will be in place, according to the community center.

“A Health Coordinator will be on staff to oversee sanitation,” according to the community center’s announcement. “Children will play games in smaller groups, and adjustments will be made in the types of games played in order to facilitate safe distancing.”

“For example, foot races will replace tag,” Executive Director Margaret Tomlinson said. “We feel confident we can run a safe program, while supporting children’s health with the exercise and social time that is so valuable for them.”

An annual stipend from the town of Catskill has been an essential support for the Community Center for many years, with particular emphasis on the summer recreation program. “We’re very grateful for the town grant,” Tomlinson said. “Without it, we could not offer this program, which is so needed, especially this year. We’ve been conserving the grant funds so we could act quickly when and if it became possible. We also appreciate the village allowing us to use Elliot Park. Many parents who are returning to work do not have reliable child care. Parents who have lost jobs, or are working from home while caring for their children, need a respite just as urgently. To make it easier for families, we’ve lowered our registration fee and are offering partial and full scholarships to families who need them.”

Registration forms are available on the Community Center’s website, or can be requested by calling the Community Center’s office at 518-719-8244 or by emailing

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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