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Summer leagues still in limbo


May 22, 2020

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Braun Park in Cloquet will likely be a busy place in June as summer leagues hope to ramp up activity as pandemic restrictions ease.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been wreaking havoc on sports across the country and this area is no exception, with youth baseball and softball in a holding pattern.

Cloquet Area Youth Baseball/Softball Association president Jason Eckenberg sent a letter to parents of players in the CYBSA, explaining how the organization is managing the current situation. It's complicated, because the volunteer board has to deal with two leagues.

"The Quad City League, which is the league that Cloquet Youth Baseball & Softball Association baseball teams participate in, have voted to start league play on June 15," Eckenberg wrote in the letter. "This would mean, and was agreed upon, that parks/fields would have to be open and available for practices on June 1."

The association mainly uses the field at Braun Park.

It was also decided that all teams must have two weeks of practice for the teams to ensure the kids are ready to play.

Local girls softball teams play in the Arrowhead Fast Pitch League and they have also been making plans should things change with COVID-19, according to the letter.

"The Arrowhead Fast Pitch league has voted to start league play on July 6, and to have a four-week season," Eckenberg wrote. "Arrowhead Fast Pitch will be meeting June 7 to finalize what their season is going to look like or if the season will be canceled."

Cloquet city council members voted last week to reopen city parks following the end of the governor's stay-at-home order. The parks had been closed to group gatherings although open to sports like tennis where social distancing is easier.

Cloquet director of public works Caleb Peterson, who also oversees the parks, told the Pine Knot News on Tuesday that the city would defer to the association and its schedule as city staff do not manage the park actively, instead relying on the volunteer board to do that.

Practices are a possibility, Peterson said.

"Under the governor's most recent order, such use would be permitted but any group sponsoring such an activity should have a COVID-19 preparedness plan encouraging social distancing," he said.

Eckenberg said Wednesday that the board is sticking with the June 1 start date for practices.

"As of right now we're going to stay status quo about not having practices yet," he said. "I don't want to jump the gun and then have the leagues that we're in decide not to have ball."

In his letter, Eckenberg stressed that the CYBSA board is working on a plan to keep members safe if and when the season starts. CYBSA is also working with guidelines put out by Minnesota Youth Athletic Services.

Eckenberg said in his email that Braun Park has no sanctioned tournament events scheduled right now.

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Pine Knot News editor Jana Peterson contributed to this story.


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