The loss of spring sports forced by the coronavirus pandemic has hit athletes of all ages, including those served by Catholic Youth Ministry in the Diocese of Wilmington. But the director of athletics for CYM has been busy preparing for a return in the fall, and he is encouraging parents to take some steps now to help with the transition to a new year.
Matt Carucci said the website to register boys and girls for fall sports will be up within a week or so, and it is important for parents to do that in June despite the uncertainty remaining about the football, soccer, volleyball and cross country schedules. Having their children’s names in the CYM database will allow those families to stay informed about the progress being made on the reinstatement of athletic competition.
Carucci said he has talked to some parents directly, and others are asking questions through their respective parish athletic associations. The parents of returning athletes generally know that this is the time to register for the fall, but lots of new faces enter CYM each year.
“New people that would otherwise be coming in have no idea and wouldn’t know who to contact,” he said.
Although he hasn’t had to oversee spring sports, Carucci has been busy working on the 2020-21 seasons. He has a few options on the table. Most would prefer a standard season, but there is also an option to start late.
“We can still get a full season in, just kind of shift all four of them at little bit. No season suffers, but we’ve got a little cushion. It’s going to depend on what happens in June and July,” he said.
Each fall sport presents its own challenges when it comes to the health of the athletes.
“Volleyball will be the easiest. It’s rare to have a lot of collisions. We still need some kind of plans made. Soccer and football are the toughest,” he said.
As for cross country, it may not be possible to start a race with dozens of competitors leaving from a starting line at the same time. He and his committee have some ideas on how to approach that, but he will wait to see how the COVID-19 landscape evolves before any decisions are made.
According to the CYM website, football and soccer conditioning can begin on June 15, although the date could change.
“I’ve been talking to coaches. We’re going to wait until after June 1 to see what the state is saying. But we’re talking about how we can at least get the summer tryout sessions done. My whole goal is to get everything ready, so assuming we can go, we’re not behind,” Carucci said.
He has been in touch with the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association, which governs high school athletics, about how they are preparing for the upcoming season. With conditions and guidelines changing so often, no one knows what will occur in August, when practices normally begin, or September. But all want to be ready when the green light is given. For CYM, that includes minimizing the number of late registrations
The guidelines from the state of Delaware allow for small-group activities in Phase I of the reopening, so as of June 1 young athletes can work out and exercise while maintaining proper distancing. Carucci said he has seen young people doing individual workouts in a park near his home.
Like many sports fans, Carucci is itching to have more sports return. “I told my neighbor that at this point I would watch paint dry or grass grow, as long as there’s a scoring system. There was a NASCAR race a few weeks ago. I’m not a big NASCAR fan, but it was something to watch.”
He is confident CYM will be providing something for boys and girls come fall, even if the final form is not set in concrete.
“We’re going to do something,” he said.