SALAMANCA — Salamanca Little League canceled its official season weeks ago, but after receiving approval to use city fields, is exploring possible returns to play this summer or fall.
Salamanca Little League president Jacob Kalyan said the initial decision to cancel stemmed from the city closing all parks until Labor Day. With other leagues in the region, including Olean/Portville, Ellicottville/Cattaraugus-Little Valley and Allegany also closing, Salamanca had few options to play.
“We issued the statement that we were canceling the season because we had no fields to use and then when the governor said low risk sports — baseball, softball, soccer (could play), we were kinda like … we should consider opening the parks sooner than Labor Day but we had already cancelled,” Kalyan said.
So at a July 1 meeting of the Salamanca Recreation Commission, Salamanca Little League received approval to play at Crowley Park under certain safe, social-distancing guidelines. Kalyan said the first possible sport to return could be a softball league for ages 12-17 that he’s working on with Ellicottville/Cattaraugus-Little Valley Little League president Todd Palmatier.
“We are working with Todd in Ellicottville and some other leagues to try to do a softball (league), because most baseball (teams) are not playing right now,” Kalyan said. “So we’re just trying to work with what we can. If we can offer a season, great, there’s a lot of guidelines we have to follow and just be careful of trying to make sure we follow everything to do it safely.”
Kalyan said safety measures including checking temperatures for players and spectators when they arrive, with each child allowed to have two spectators.
“When down on the fields players are asked to wear face coverings,” Kalyan said. “So when they’re sitting on the bench waiting to bat they would have to have a face mask on. Same with spectators. We have to space them out as much as we can, six feet apart. We plan on using bleachers to keep the kids in so we can space them out on the bleachers, because it’s close confined in the dugouts to try to get that spaced apart. So each kid would have their own assigned spot and that’s where they go when they’re not on the field.”
Other measures include no sharing of water bottles, no sunflower seeds or spitting and no handshakes. Restrooms would need to be sanitized after each use. He also noted the city asked to have parents sign waivers to protect against responsibility if someone were to contract the coronavirus at a game.
Kalyan said Salamanca Little League will also explore playing in the fall, likely depending on whether youth football will be allowed to play by then.
“We’d like to do baseball for the boys in the fall, but a lot of our boys who play baseball also play football,” he said. “So we’re waiting to see what happens as far as football goes because most of those kids are going to stick to playing football, and I think they will. We would like to try to do something that’s almost similar to the girls, but not not as widespread age groups (as 12-17).”
Salamanca Little League has already refunded most of its registration money, Kalyan said, after two weekends where parents could pick up refund checks.
“I know some towns were doing the carry over for next year,” Kalyan noted. “We just felt it would be better to refund the money and go through the registration next year and we’re not holding anybody’s money. We felt it would be best to issue refunds and then take it from there if we had a season in the fall, we would redo registration.
“I don’t want them to lose a whole year,” Kalyan said, “because then you worry about ‘will they come back next year with taking a whole year off?’ But we still have to try to do it safely the best we can with the kids.”