Fields empty as leagues wait

Soccer has cancelled; others hopeful for shortened season.

The Plymouth Street Little League field remains closed as part of social distancing precautions. April 25 would have been Opening Day for Abington Little League.

(This article was updated on May 2 to include a message from Abington Little League)

More than 200 youth baseball players should be parading down Central Avenue to the Plymouth Street Little League field today. But instead, they’re at home, waiting to hear along with their parents and coaches whether there will even be a season this year.

“We’re hoping we can get some kind of season in,” said new Abington Little League President Ronnie Solimini. 

Spring youth sports leagues are one more part of everyday life that has been either canceled or put on hold due to mandatory social distancing practices enacted to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Normally, the town’s athletic fields would be filled almost every evening during the spring months, with hundreds of Abington kids competing in youth soccer, baseball, softball, lacrosse, and flag football leagues. 

But the town fields remain closed as the number of cases in Abington, as well as Massachusetts, continue to climb. The total number of positive cases in the state now exceeds 50,000; 71 people in Abington are currently battling the virus. 

Gov. Charlie Baker this week announced schools will remain closed through the end of the academic year, and daycares will remain closed until at least June 29. 

Abington Youth Soccer, which competes against other local towns as part of the South Shore Soccer League, so far is the only youth sports league to cancel its spring season. In an email sent to parents on April 15, organization President Brian Agnew said a combination of the continued uncertainty, plus changes the regional league was planning for the shortened season’s structure, prompted the board to vote to pull the plug.   

“Having heard the plans that the [league] is putting together and knowing that many parents/players, understandably, may not feel safe enough or ready to play come May 4th, we felt it would be in the best interest of our program to cancel season,” Agnew wrote. 

The league, which had been posting skills challenges for players on its Facebook page in an effort to keep players engaged while stuck at home, said it would begin refunding players immediately. 

Other leagues remain in a holding pattern, hopeful that they can salvage a partial season. 

“We are still in a holding pattern waiting to see what we want to do as a league,” said Mike Grafton, president of Abington Youth Lacrosse. “We haven’t ruled out pushing the season into the summer but much will depend on what access we have to fields and the general safety of everyone.”

Abington Girls Softball President Kevin D’Ambra said they will have to restructure their season, if it goes forward. The organization, which welcomes in teams from Holbrook, Rockland, Brockton, and Randolph, said a number of teams have already dropped out.

“We’re definitely at a standstill,” said D’Ambra, whose league includes about 100 players. “We’re going to do everything we can to have something this summer. “

Solimini, who took over Abington Little League recently from long-time president Robert Dursin, said the delay is made more frustrating because the organization was eager to unveil improvements it had worked on over the off-season.

“It’s disheartening because we had a whole Opening Day set up,” he said. “We were going to have a family field day-type of event. “

The league has been in touch with regional Little League organizers, and monitoring recommendations from state and national public health officials. So long as the league can start playing games by June, Solimini said, it could coordinate a season, even if it means playing into the summer.  

“The determining factor is going to be the town,” he said. “Ultimately they hold the field permits. We have to wait to see if they release them.”

The normally busy turf fields at Abington Middle/High School sit empty this spring.

Ed Reilly, an organizer of the town’s flag football league, said the organization is also waiting and hoping. 

“We haven’t made a decision yet,” he said. “We are waiting until the first week of May and are continuing to monitoring the situation.  Ultimately we will look for guidance from the town’s health agent.”

The worst part, league presidents said, was knowing how disappointed the older kids in the league would be if their final seasons were canceled. 

“For the 12 year olds, this is their last year, and to lose out on their 12-year-old year, and not be able to play in the Williamsport tourney as a team,” said Solimini, “this is what they’ve been playing for all these years and it’s being taken away from them.”

“For our 8th graders, this would have been their last year in the league,” said D’Ambra. “Its supposed to be your year to shine and you don’t get it.” 

The following is from Facebook post by Abington Little League on May 2, 2020

A message from the Abington Little League Board of Directors:

I hope this message finds everyone healthy and eager to get back on the field. The Board would like to provide you with an update on our current status. Currently we are obviously still in a holding pattern. The Governor has extended his stay at home order until May 18th. The Board will continue to monitor the Federal/ State/ and our local Board of Health guidelines. As the Governor prepares to open up the State in phases, the Board is hopeful that we may be able to open up the season sometime in June. This past Thursday Little League International cancelled the Little League World Series and all regional tournaments. What this means for us is that there will be no 12 year old travel team Williamsport Tournament for us. Also, more likely than not there will be no summer travel teams for any age groups this summer. Our intention is to have our spring baseball season play during the summer, and provide all the kids a chance to play in their local Little League this year, once we receive guidance from our local board of health. The Board is committed to get playing again and have our six week season/ plus playoffs. Which means, if we get the go ahead to play, our season will go into August. So the League needs to know ASAP from parents if you are still interested having your child play baseball throughout the summer because we need to figure out teams/ finances/ uniforms/ etc. So if your NOT interested in moving forward with the season throughout the summer, then please email the board. Again, only notify the board if you are not available to play the season throughout the summer.

In anticipation of the season ALL had already made significant payments in terms of our registration costs, insurance, uniforms, equipment, supplies, etc. If we cannot play this season, we will evaluate our options at that time, and provide further communication. Unfortunately this is an unprecedented time and no one could foresee this happening. The ALL Board would like to thank you for your patience during these trying times as we are committed to getting our season started. Again, the League raffle is still on, and the drawing date it TBD. Please mail in your raffle ticket stubs or hold on to them until further information is provided at a later date.

Thank You!

Abington Little League – BOD
P.O. Box 2118, Abington, MA. 02351

%d bloggers like this: