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Little League seasons canceled
Other youth sports make adjustments
Little League
The Turlock American Little League waited a month longer than the Turlock National Little League to cancel their season and made the announcement July 2 (Journal file photo).

Despite kicking off socially-distanced practices just over a month ago, any hope that local youth still held for a summer baseball season was recently erased when all three of Turlock’s Little League organizations canceled their plans to play.

Turlock National Little League and Turlock National Little League Softball announced on June 1 that their respective seasons would be canceled after several discussions with the City of Turlock and Turlock Unified School District. In an interview with the Journal at the end of May, TNLL President Michelle Helwick said that the league was in a state of “limbo,” since their field, Soderquist Park, is maintained by the City.

Come June 1, it was uncertain when or even if Stanislaus County would transition into Phase 3 of the state’s coronavirus reopening plan, where team sports are allowed to play. The County is still in Phase 2 a month later along with the rest of the state, with some reopening guidelines, like indoor dining, being rolled back.

According to TNLL’s announcement, which was posted on social media, the league incurred costs to start the 2020 season although no games were played, including insurance, uniforms, field and maintenance, new equipment and coach training. The cost to play was $90 or $110 depending on the player’s age, and TNLL families were refunded $30 unless they opted to donate their reimbursement to the league.

“This was a difficult decision for the Board because in addition to losing the money from registration, the league is also unable to get the proceeds from the snack bar, which helps to keep the league financially sound so that we can continue to provide safe fields for our kids to play on,” TNLL’s announcement said. “Many of you know that we made significant improvements to Soderquist this year. These improvements along with the expansion of softball this year depleted our reserves.”

TNLL Softball would have been celebrating its second season had the coronavirus not spoiled it.

“This was my daughter's first year and we were so excited. They ended up postponing on the day that her first game was supposed to happen,” parent Melissa Newton wrote on the TNLL Softball Facebook page. “Even so, we will definitely be back next year. I know my daughter is looking forward to playing again.”

The city’s other league, Turlock American Little League, waited a month longer to cancel their season and made the announcement July 2. After pausing the spring season on March 12 in hopes for a late spring or early summer season, socially-distanced practices began in late May and continued into early June as players, coaches and parents awaited a decision.

The decision to cancel the season was made due to uncertainty from the City as to when a season could start, TALL announced in a Facebook post, as well as several other leagues in TALL’s district cancelling their seasons.

“We are deeply saddened by this development as this decision was not made lightly, and came only after many hours of discussion with Little League International, California District 73, the City of Turlock, as well as relevant federal, state and local health officials,” TALL’s announcement read.

Like TNLL, TALL also incurred a variety of costs while attempting their start to the season, including $4,236 in insurance costs, $1,002 in fees, $1,335 in postage and snack bar expenses, $11,094 for uniforms and equipment and $11,000 in field maintenance, adding up to about $103 per child. Also like TNLL, TALL parents could either be refunded $30 or donate it back to the league.

“Never an easy decision,” parent Kerry Goman Rocha wrote. “You guys are doing a great job by offering the above...Well done TALL.”

Turlock Youth Soccer Association, now known as Turlock Academic Jr.s, is planning on moving forward with its fall recreational season in accordance with whatever public health guidelines are in place at the time, according to an email sent to parents. Players have until July 10 to register. In the event of cancelation of the season due to COVID-19, 100 percent of registration fees will be refunded, minus transaction fees and spent costs. Turlock Indoor Soccer has postponed its recreational leagues, but is still allowing individual parties to rent the facility.

Turlock Youth Football teams the Pride and the Bulldogs had originally planned to sign players up to play as early as March, but the dates were postponed to several days in June, July and August. The Turlock Hornets Youth Football program hosted a drive-through registration and uniform fitting for the season on June 20. The seasons are hoping to start the last week of August. 

As for high school sports, summer conditioning and workouts for fall sports continue and are allowed under Phase 2 of the reopening guidelines. The California Interscholastic Federation, the state’s governing body for high school sports, announced on June 12 that it will make a final decision on whether or not the fall season will be altered or canceled on July 20.