Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Media
Local sports are currently paused, but when the time comes, the Quinte Royals are ready to play ball.
Royals’ president Chris Lisle says the organization’s Return to Play plans are ready to go and get players back on the field when permission is granted from the provincial and municipal governments.
Lisle is also one of the seven Royals’ rep team coaches that knows what playing baseball means to the kids.
“We (coaches) all, in conversation, discussed just how important it is to get these kids back to doing what they love to do,” Lisle said. “I think it’s very important that we get these kids out playing again. I’ve been fortunate enough to have six workouts with my 14U team – we were at the Loyalist Dome for the six weeks leading into this latest shutdown and the kids just love it. They want to get back to doing what they love to do and see their summertime friends and compete.”
Chad Crawford, who coaches the 12U Royals, is also the organization’s Eastern Ontario Baseball Association (EOBA) rep. He attended a virtual town hall meeting with the Ontario Baseball Association earlier this month.
Like last year, pod play is expected again this summer, but in a more regular scheduled format. Teams would once again join two or three other teams for a set amount of games. The difference this summer is there could be just a seven-day break between teams switching to new pods (different teams), instead of 14, and the standings would carry over.
“Hopefully if there’s any way to do something at the provincial level then the EOBA teams would have some idea of what our standings would be,” Crawford said.
Teams can resume practising once the stay-at-home order is lifted, but the status of each local health unit will play a role in scheduling pod play.
“We’re hoping ourselves, Kingston and Northumberland are all green so we can at least start the pods out together,” Crawford said.
Pods worked well last year, Crawford said, noting there was extensive cleaning protocols, contact tracing and distancing.
That being said, it was a learning process for players and coaches.
“A big part was always having the sunflower seeds and the gum and that was completely eliminated…having them not be like the older guys they see on TV and spitting,” Crawford said, adding that players regularly kept their hands sanitized. Coaches sometimes had to remind them about distancing.
“There was more crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s than previous seasons,” he said. “You always watched them to see where they are and what they’re doing, but during this you have to keep your eye on them just that little bit more.”
Lisle agreed and said a big change was not working up close with the players on certain techniques and mechanics.
“You’re watching for so much more than just how good their swing looks or their throwing mechanics, you’re watching for things you’ve never considered before,” Lisle said. “You’re coaching from a little bit more of a distance.”
The Royals welcome anyone interested in helping out with coaching, on the executive or even umpiring.
“We’re easy to find and we’re always looking for help,” Lisle said. “We’ve got a fantastic group of people. It makes us proud,” Lisle said. “You can see the passion of baseball in the Quinte area.”
Check out quinteroyalsbaseball.com