Days after the national American Legion office announced the suspension of its baseball season, Blair Legion coach James Bilslend received better news Monday.
“It was a shock to hear it come out today,” he said that evening, not long after completing some Vets Field upkeep.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced that organized baseball and softball teams may begin practice June 1 during his daily news conference in Lincoln. Games, however, can't start until June 18. Both can only take place if strict guidelines and rules are adhered to.
Baseball and softball, specifically, can start because they involve limited contact. Other sports will still be suspended.
Along with the same announcement, it was noted that high school weight rooms may begin opening June 1 as well. Arlington Activities Director James Shada took to Twitter to inform his student athletes of the news, asking parents and those Eagles to watch for messages from the school for more information as June approaches.
On Tuesday, the Omaha World-Herald reported that the NSAA will allow multiple rooms to be used for strength training and conditioning, but with no more than 10 people per room. The association will also limit outdoor conditioning sessions to 10. Sanitation and 6-foot social distancing guidelines will also be in play, following closely with the rules established for fitness centers, gyms, health clubs and spas.
Complicated answers will also be needed for Washington County Legion baseball teams as June 1 approaches. Without Legion affiliation after the suspension announcement, teams in Blair, Arlington and Fort Calhoun will have to consider the costs of moving forward.
“This is pretty wild for everybody,” Fort Calhoun coach Brandon Wynn said Monday morning even before Ricketts' announcement.
Arlington coach Ed Menking added that there's still a lot of questions to consider before committing to play in June.
Bilslend, meanwhile, said his first step is to reach out to the City of Blair to make sure its guidelines matches the state's. Then, he has to consider insurance — which is typically purchased through the Legion — and jerseys, which will likely be T-shirts with numbers on them.
That said, the Blair coach is optimistic. In reaching out to his players last week, many said they were still interested in playing.
“We're going to try and play some,” he said. “We definitely owe it to the seniors … Not just seniors. Everybody, really.”
Bilslend added that Legion coaches in the area have been on the same page in recent months, and many had already considered all options of playing provided the state's guidelines allowed it.
Youth baseball and softball programs, meanwhile, will be making their own decisions. The Fort Calhoun Youth Sports Organization (FCYSO) board announced the cancellation of its T-ball season Monday. It was due to the short length of a potential season and the feeling that teams may be unable to maintain “safe social distancing,” according to the organization's Facebook page.
FCYSO baseball and softball plans, however, will be taking shape in the coming weeks. Surveys were sent out to member families and an emergency board meeting was to take place on Thursday.
Questions remain for all Washington County teams, but Ricketts provided one key answer to the question of when on Monday.