LINCOLN – “Launch Nebraska” got underway on May 11 with the announcement that baseball and softball across the state of Nebraska will open for business.
Governor Pete Ricketts announced that youth baseball and softball practices can begin on June 1 and that games can be held starting June 18.
“We’re stepping into this slowly to see how this works,” the Governor stated and also went on to say that baseball and softball were chosen because the sport lends itself to social distancing.
State Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt said that officials will be watching how players, fans and coaches interact to see how it works and what they can learn in the hope of restoring sports in the fall.
Blomstedt said that the baseball and softball guidelines were developed with an eye towards “what’s safe and what works” for teams, games and practices.
“We expect to learn from this,” he said.
Player’s coaches and parents will be asked to adhere to a new set of rules when they come out to the ballpark in ten days.
Dugout use will not be allowed. Teams are asked to line up against the fence, at least six feet apart.
Parents must remain in their cars or drop off and pick up players after practice.
Players have been asked to use their own gloves, helmet and bats as much as possible.
Coaches are responsible for ensuring that social distancing is being maintained between players as much as possible.
Players must bring their own water/beverage to consume during and after practice. Drinking fountains and coolers are off limits.
Players are asked to bring their own snacks. Communal snacks are prohibited.
Coaches have been asked to sanitize shared equipment before and after each practice.
Once games are allowed to begin on June 18 all of same guidelines will apply.
Use of dugouts is permitted during games only.
Players should have designated places for their personal items. Coaches have been asked to designate an adult who is responsible for ensuring players are seated on the benches, unless they are participating in the game.
Fan attendance is limited to household members of the players on the team. Fans are not allowed to sit in the bleachers and have been asked to bring their own chairs.
Teams scheduled to play in the next game are asked to warm-up in a specific designated area.
Postgame handshakes or interaction between teams is prohibited.
After the game is over, the leaving team must sanitize the dugout area. No postgame talks are allowed on the field.
Fans and players must leave the field and return to their cars immediately after the game.
Restrooms must be cleaned and sanitized regularly while players and fans are present. People waiting to use the restroom have been asked to remain six feet apart.
Concession stands are not allowed to be open.
In March, Wahoo Parks and Recreation made the decision to suspend all t-ball, coach-pitch and player-pitch registration. On May 11, WPR made the decision to re-open registration.
Youth baseball and softball registration will continue through June 1.
Only mail in registrations accompanied with a check will be accepted. A registration form can be found on the youth baseball and softball webpages.
Wahoo Parks and Recreation Superintendent Bob Schmidt is cautiously optimistic about bringing baseball and softball back.
Schmidt said that when the sports return in Wahoo he plans to go above and beyond the guidelines established by Governor Ricketts.
“We want to ensure that our players and families remain as safe as possible,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt also wouldn’t commit to an exact date as to when youth sports will come back to Wahoo.
“The middle of June is a goal for a start date for WPR games but it could very well be pushed back to late June/early July,” Schmidt added.
(Stu Pospisil of the Omaha World Herald contributed to this article)