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Youth sports now allowed to practice, but with restrictions

Youth Sports
Central Coast Venom club baseball players take part in a practice in Nipomo on Thursday morning. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

NIPOMO, Calif. -- Youth sports have now been given the green light to return to action in California.

However, the California Department of Public Health has established strict protocol that limits what can take place.

Most importantly, the state is only allowing training, conditioning and physical education to be held at this time.

The new guidelines prohibit competitions, tournaments, or any other events that promote congregating.

Also restricted are most indoor activities or any sports or activities that cannot be played with sufficient distancing.

Athletics will be allowed only when physical distancing of at least six feet between participants can be maintained.

In addition, there must be a "stable cohort," such as a team or class, which will limit the risks of transmission.

The new rules apply to all youth sports, including at the high school level, as well as school-based, club and recreational youth organizations.

Youth sports have been restricted statewide since March, 19 following California's stay-at-home order, which was issued to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

According to the state, all adult, amateur team sports are currently not permitted at this time.

Some Central Coast teams and programs are already taking advantage of the new guidelines.

"It's very nice to be able to be back practicing and coaching the kids," said Jason Ramirez, Central Coast Venom club baseball organization president. "I think the kids are happy because we can see that on their smiles, obviously, the parents as well. I'm just glad to be able to do that again."

The Venom have five teams, with about 60 players ranging in ages from 8-years-old to 13-years-old.

"I think it's great," said Ashlee Hillier, a parent of two Venom players. "I think it's great for the kids to get out and to be able to socialize. It's been really hard these past couple of months. The kids being stuck in the house, not being able to hang out and do the sports they love, so I think it's great for them to get out."

Ramirez said the Venom have worked hard with the City of Santa Maria to establish their own safety protocol, in addition to observing the new state criteria.

"We our players are coming and arriving, you need a mask," said Ramirez. "They are coming with their face coverings to the field, placing their bags, six feet apart. We have sanitize breaks and sessions for our kids to be able to do that. We avoid sharing any equipment, but we still disinfect everything just to be safe."

While some people may be against youth sports returning to action during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ramirez believes it is being done so responsibily.

"I just want them to know that we're doing everything that we can," said Ramirez. "This is obviously something new for everyone dealing with sports. We're taking every precaution and keeping everyone as safe as we can, and so that's evident when anyone would walk by practice, they'll see our sanitizing wipes, they'll see our sanitizers, they'll see our distancing."

While watching her younger son practice at Nipomo Community Park on Thursday morning, Hillier emphasized how important it was for her children to be back on the diamond.

"I see a difference with both my sons," said Hillier. "I have totally seen a 180 since they're not stuck in the house all the time. They're not sitting doing nothing. They're out doing the passionate thing that they love, which is baseball."

The state plans to issue guidance for amateur and adult team sports in the near future.

California / Community / Coronavirus / Health / Lifestyle / Outdoors / San Luis Obispo County / Santa Maria - North County / What's Right

Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at KCOY|KEYT|KKFX.