social distancing success plan for softball

One of the ballfield social distancing illustrations presented in the Gillette Girls Fastpitch Association's submitted variance

The Gillette Girls Fastpitch Association softball league has submitted a variance request to Campbell County Public Health and the Wyoming Department of Public Health to get the OK to host its Battle of the High Plains tournament.

Association president Jim West said the tournament is scheduled for May 23-25, and would be played at the Energy Capital Sports Complex and Bicentennial Park in Gillette.

“If we can’t get an approval to host it this week, we’re going to cancel,” West said. “But if we get an OK this week to run it, then I’ll advertise like crazy.”

West said there were 22 teams from various age groups signed up as of Monday. It’s been hard to get teams to commit because it is still unknown if the tournament will be allowed. He said registration will be allowed until a couple of days before the tournament.

Teams from surrounding states have reached out about the Gillette event because there aren't many softball tournaments still planned, West said.

Rules and an illustration depicting how to enforce COVID-19 safety precautions at the tournament were submitted with the variance.

They include:

  • Banning handshakes and high-fives to limit player contact
  • Limiting pre-game umpire meetings to one coach per team and the umpire, or taking them out entirely
  • No sharing equipment
  • No shared team water coolers or water bottles
  • Requiring teams to clean dugouts and wipe down hard surfaces with sanitizer after each game
  • No awards ceremonies
  • Game balls cleaned between games and when needed
  • Fans must practice social distancing
  • All with symptoms of illness will not be allowed at the tournament
  • Tournament monitors will inspect people at the gate for signs of sickness

West also submitted three maps of softball fields that display how the tournament would operate to best follow COVID-19 pandemic safety guidelines.

West’s 18U fastpitch team also is planning to attend the Oklahoma City Challenge tournament that runs May 30 to June 1. He said he looked at that tournament and its restrictions to help create the proposed rules for Gillette’s first softball tournament of the season.

County Health Officer Dr. Kirtikumar Patel approved the variance, West wrote in a text message, but the association is still waiting on the state for approval.

In the past couple of weeks, many local sports organizations, like the Gillette Roughriders American Legion Post 42 baseball team, began practicing with the number of players and coaches on a field at a time to fewer than 10.

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