Softball is back in Durango. More sports may soon follow.
Durango Parks & Recreation sent an email to captains to inform adult men’s, women’s and coed teams that the summer season will begin the week of July 12, culminating with a season-ending double-elimination tournament Aug. 14-16. The goal is to get softball leagues set before beginning the process of starting kickball and volleyball programs.
Programs previously had been suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was uncertain before Tuesday whether summer recreation leagues would be formed. As Gov. Jared Polis announced outdoor sports and camps could be held with a maximum of 25 athletes on a single field, Durango began to plan a return to play.
“We are inching toward more programs and participation for our community,” said Durango Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz. “Durango is a very outdoor-oriented community with an active recreational base. We have taken time to get organized and plan appropriately. We are following the guidance of the governor and San Juan Basin Public Health to make sure we create a safe environment to get out and have fun.”
Softball teams will be limited to 12 players per game, not including coaches or umpires, to keep games below the 25-person threshold. Players will be asked to wear masks in dugouts and try to remain six feet apart to adhere to social distancing guidelines. That means some players may be outside the dugout when their team is up to bat.
“We have to follow the orders through all of this,” said Durango Parks and Recreation Assistant Recreation Director Kelli Jaycox. “If a dugout is packed, we will ask some people to step out. But that hopefully won’t be too big of a problem with 12 players on a team, people on base and base coaches.”
Temperature checks on players will not be performed, though all staff members will have temperatures taken.
Spectators are not encouraged to come. If they do, masks will be required. Water fountains at the three-field Fort Lewis College softball complex will be turned off, and players are encouraged to not share water or snacks.
Softball teams will play a five-game regular-season schedule followed by the double elimination weekend tournament. It is possible games that are rained out will have to be made up on days leagues do not typically run. If more than six teams sign up for a specific division, adjustments to schedules may have to be made.
BMX and mountain bike programs had already begun in recent weeks, and the Durango Recreation Center opened Monday. Durango Gymnastics is open and operating with a modified programming schedule. The city’s Gametime summer camp program is also operating at Chapman Hill.
Scheduled to start later this month is floor hockey. The city also will host a pickleball tournament July 31.
“After we get softball dialed in and ready, we will see what the interest is for grass volleyball and kickball,” Jaycox said. “We wanted to get the bigger sports going first. We are so glad to get this going after debating if we would be able to make it happen.”
The city went through a self certification process to ensure proper health protocols would be in place. The city hopes summer programs run smoothly so fall programs such as soccer can be held as regularly scheduled.
“It is great to see people engaging in our programing,” Metz said. “We are appreciative of the safety precautions, and we are making it as safe as we can for players and our staff.”