For many around Coronado, Bradley Field and the Coronado Little League have been home to fond memories for both parents and kids alike. Serving as a hub for both competition and community since 1953.
But like many Little Leagues around the country, Coronado Little League had to place its plans and season on halt, due to the outbreak of COVID-19. And while last season may have been lost, there are many reasons for hope for this season, according to League president Doug Barker.
I started off asking Barker about how last season ended, to which he told me, “As far as I know, this was the first time Coronado Little League has ever had to shut down. It seems as if baseball is always going on, so for the season to be canceled, it was certainly disappointing for everyone involved.”
And because of this abrupt ending, Barker was the first to admit that the turnout for the 2021 season could be down. “Our expectations for this season are that registration could be down, as we know that there will be those parents who are going to be hesitant about having their kids return to the field. But we also know that many parents will welcome having their kinds return to baseball and other activities. It’s all going to depend on how comfortable people are.”
As it currently stands Barker and the rest of the Coronado Little League Administration Board are preparing as if the season is going to start on time, so if and when the league is given the green light, they won’t skip a beat. “We as a board know exactly what needs to be done. We know how to get the word out, and we know that we can set up and make registration very easy for the kids and parents here in Coronado. We’d be ready and prepared to get things rolling overnight if we had to.”
And while he understands that parents will be hesitant, Barker made it clear that the safety of the players would be the most important matter this season. “The protocols that we would follow would come from both the county health officials and Little League International, and we would make sure that we are compliant with all regulations set forth to us. We want to make it as safe as possible when these kids can retake the field. Whatever has to be done will do done, even if that means making adjustments to the game itself.”
Barker even noted how involved and committed Little League District 32, the district Coronado Little League is a part of, is in helping the 2021 season happen. “We have been having constant zoom meetings with the officials of district 32 about how to prepare and keep players safe for this upcoming season. The district has started to survey parents and is going to petition the governor and the county of San Diego to help get Little League baseball back.”
Some of these changes that Barker talks about would include: Umpires calling balls and strikes from behind the home plate or from behind the fencing at each respective field. Making sure coaches on the field are wearing face coverings. And while these changes seem small, they very well could be the thing that ensures the season can continue and help limit the chances of COVID-19 spreading if a positive case did occur.
For many sports around the country, including baseball, one of the biggest questions outside of playing the games has been the topic of how to conduct practices safely. And for Barker and the rest of the Coronado Little League, they actually believe they are set up perfectly. “Practices would be able to operate normally and are well set up for us for a couple of reasons. The first being that we can use the Day Camp policy from the county health official here in San Diego. For us, the perfect size for a team is 11 players, so when these kids would come to practice together, they would stay in small groups. Making our practices quite safe.”
However, for everything that Barker and the rest of Coronado Little League hope to control, there will be certain things that will be out of their hands. For example, will fans and parents be allowed to attend games?
While the 2021 season still has questions surrounding it, it hasn’t stopped Barker from thinking optimistically “We know the challenges that we face, but I feel confident that we’ll be prepared if we are allowed to have this season. We are very optimistic and hopeful that we can bring little league baseball and maybe a little sense of normality back to Coronado.”