The bright glow of stadium lights could be seen for miles outside of St. Ansgar when the clock struck midnight on Monday, June 1.
Why? For baseball and softball practice, of course.
Iowa high schools got the green light to resume summer sports on Monday, and coaches Devin Schwiesow and Lance Schutjer wasted not a single minute getting their players back on the field.
Unperturbed by the middle of the night practice sessions, the kids were buzzing with excitement when they stepped out under the lights the second the ban was lifted.
It feels so good to be back with everyone. I’ve really missed the team atmosphere and I cannot wait to see what we will do this season.
“The months of not knowing if I would get to put on a Saints jersey for one more season was difficult,” St. Ansgar softball senior Hannah Patterson said. “It feels so good to be back with everyone. I’ve really missed the team atmosphere and I cannot wait to see what we will do this season. [I’m] so thankful to be able to wear the Saints jersey for one more season!”
Halfway across the county, the Osage baseball and softball squads laced up for midnight practices as well Monday, as many kids say they’re eager about the return to semi-normalcy.
“It’s pretty sweet to have the first thing open back up since the virus be baseball,” said Osage senior Zach Duren. “I missed golf, but it’s nice to be be back out for this and have something to look forward to.”
The teams have two weeks of practice to prepare for their first games, which are slated for Monday, June 15. Normally, everybody would have a few games under their belt by this time of year, so teams have some catching up to do to prepare for their first contests.
“We have to do our regular schedule, but we’ve just got to cram it into two weeks,” Osage senior Mason O’Malley said about practice. “We have a good team that should be able to get that done, and hopefully have a good season.”
The St. Ansgar softball team will also be looking to put the finishing touches on their field upgrades during the two-week run up to the first games of the summer. The brand-new dugouts and press box should provide ample room for social distancing once play resumes.
We didn’t think we were going to have a season and now, here we are.
It’s been nearly three months since COVID-19 closures started back in mid-march, and many wondered if sports would start up again at all. Iowa made the decision last month to go ahead with a shortened softball and baseball season, ending months of speculation as to when and if senior athletes would step on the field again.
“Come out and compete with your friends and make great memories,” St. Ansgar head baseball coach Devin Schweisow told his players before Monday’s practice, reminding the kids to be safe on and off the field not to take this opportunity for granted.
“It’s pretty crazy… it’s incredible,” Osage senior Gavin Schaefer said. “We didn’t think we were going to have a season and now, here we are.”
St. Ansgar and Osage will play each other in both softball and baseball Friday, June 19 in Osage. Be sure to pick up a copy of next week’s EJ for a full season schedule for the Saints and Green Devils.
If you plan to make it out to a ball game this summer, there will be a few guideines in place due to the coronoavirus. Here’s what you need to know:
- Spectators should have their temperature checked at home before attending games. If a spectator has a temperature of 100.3 or above, they should not attend games.
- Per guidelines from the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health, schools must limit the use of bleachers for fans.
- Fans are encouraged to bring their own chairs or stand. Fans should practice social distancing between different household units and accept personal responsibility for public health guidelines.
- A sanitation station will be available / NO Concession Stand available.
- A free will donation bucket will take the place of admission fees.
- Hand sanitizers are available near bleachers
- Signage is posted prominently indicating no one should attend or participate in games if they currently have symptoms or have been in contact with anyone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the last 14 days.