We hope you and your families are safe and healthy. It goes without saying that the 2021 Little League season will not be a typical one. Our board met several times in the last month to discuss plans for the upcoming season. Among the challenges we are preparing to address:
State and Contra Costa County health restrictions. The State’s current Blueprint for a Safer Economy details the safety recommendations for all youth sports, but does not yet provide the needed clarity for us to operate as our County progresses from tier to tier. Therefore, it is difficult to understand the timing for when we would be able to start a normal baseball season. For example, teams can be defined as individual player cohorts already, but it is unlikely that we would be able to put two teams or cohorts together with umpires and parent volunteers on the same field anytime soon.
Skill development. The majority of our Little League players have not participated in any organized sports since March. We want to get players back on the field with ample time for basic physical mechanics, rules education, and training to compensate for the recent reduction in activity.
Reshaping league financials. The abrupt ending of the 2019-2020 season and subsequent refunding and crediting of registration fees is forcing us to define the 2021 season in a way that brings the timing of registrations and income more closely in line with actual expenses in order to minimize risk of further financial exposure, as well as better predictability for families.
Competition from other sports and school activities. Almost all of Danville’s other youth sports programs have been similarly impacted. As SRVUSD brings students back to campus and other sports and after school programs resume, we may have to adjust to changing County health guidelines around cohorts. We also expect to have to deal with constrained resources like Town of Danville fields.
With these things in mind, we plan to move forward with a two-staged plan for the 2021 season.
We will start the 2021 season with “Spring Training” emphasizing skill development for 8-16 year olds running from December to the end of February. Registration for those interested will begin this week with an understanding that we will start as practices in teams/cohorts led by parent volunteers and using the same safety protocols we established this summer. Fees will be $75 per player, covering the cost of team chartering, insurance, basic equipment including PPE and safety supplies, and field rental. Teams will be formed in December after a modified player assessment process that conforms to County health guidelines. Like our summer program, our primary objective is to bring players back to the field safely.
Our “Regular Season” will only begin after State and County health guidance allow multiple teams/cohorts to come together, and not before March 1st. At that time, we will open registration to ages 4-7 and collect fees from the 8-16 year olds that will fund game operations, equipment including PPE and safety supplies, team hats and jerseys, umpire expenses, and field rentals through early June. Including the $75 Spring Training fee, we do not intend to raise our fees from 2020. The team rosters established for Spring Training will remain in place and will use our existing processes to adjust rosters for late registrations or families that opt out. If State and County health guidance does not allow the Regular Season to begin on March 1st, we expect to continue Spring Training practices even for the youngest kids.
Our registration pages will open later this week for players, coaches, umpires, and sponsors. Soon, we will publish a schedule for other startup activities including December tryouts and umpire training, which will likely be done through Zoom until we can get larger groups together at the field.
In the meantime, we hope that your families are staying healthy and will join us for the upcoming spring season. Our league’s monthly meeting is tonight at 7pm PST if you are interested in getting involved in the planning effort (Zoom link). Feel free to reach out to me or any board member directly with questions or feedback.