The ping of the bat will sound a little more special this year in Flower Mound.
Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday outlined Phase II of the Reopen Texas plan. Part of the plan includes youth sports, youth camps and professional sports without fans resuming May 31.
In Flower Mound, that means children will be able to play organized baseball and softball this summer, something that looked iffy at best just a few weeks ago.
The Flower Mound Youth Sports Association (FMYSA) is moving forward with plans for a summer season. For league organizers, it’s not only allowed but it’s critical.
“It’s so important for us to come out here for the children,” said Tracy Black, FMYSA general manager. “They’ve been so disregarded during this lockdown. We’ve had coaches reach out to us and tell us they need to use our practice fields because they’re concerned for some of the kids. They need an outlet.”
Baseball and softball will be different, though.
Black said several protocols are in place to ensure safety. For example, only three players and one coach are allowed in the dugout at the same time during games. Everyone else will be spaced out outside the dugouts. Dugouts won’t be used at all during practice. Equipment bags will be spaced out as well.
The seasons will also be different. Usually the season wraps up in early May, but organizers are looking at a 10- or 12-game season that begins June 15 and ends either July 5 or possibly July 11.
Jeff Nelson, president of FMYSA, said it’s projected that 75-80 percent of the teams signed up from the spring will play this summer. But he said what’s important is that the option is there for everyone.
“It’s all or nothing for us,” Nelson said. “Any kid who wants to play, whether it’s select or rec league, will get to play. If one plays, we all play.”
The beginning of the league season will coincide with the Wilson American Amateur Youth Baseball Alliance (AAYBA) Texas World Series, which is also expected to begin June 15.
The event typically draws hundreds of teams and thousands of players from across the region.
Black, the tournament director, said the World Series will be different. For example, the giant opening ceremony event won’t happen in 2020 because of social distancing requirements.
“Instead of having an opening ceremony of 10,000 people, we’re going to have check-ins by appointment, and those will be staggered,” Black said. “Other events we’ll have by appointment as well so that we’re not clustering. Our main focus is getting the games played.”
The number of teams will likely be down as well.
“We were anticipating an influx of teams, possibly 25 percent up from 2019,” Black said. “But registration was set for the same time COVID-19 hit. So I don’t know if we’ll get 150 teams? 200 teams?”
Black said some leagues around North Texas made the call in April not to have a season in the summer. He said that was a decision FMYSA wasn’t ready to make.
“We’re advocating for the kids as much as we can,” Black said. “When you see the green of the grass and the brown of the dirt, when you hear the ping of the ball coming off the bat … that’s needed therapy.”
The Greater Lewisville Area Soccer Association (GLASA) will finish its Academy League as there were only a few games left before it had to shut down. GLASA will also offer summer camps.
Adult sports leagues through the town of Flower Mound will begin June 15.
But not all sports will resume. Chuck Jennings, parks and recreation director for the town of Flower Mound, said there will be no spring or summer football through the Flower Mound Youth Football Association (FMYFA).
The Flower Mound Lacrosse Association (FMLA) spring season was canceled because of COVID-19, and it’s unclear if there will be a summer season. Camps and clinics may be scheduled, however.
As previously announced the Heritage Park splash pad, Community Activity Center (gym, workout area and reduced programs) and CAC indoor pool will reopen June 1. Pavilion rentals will also be available June 1.
The Flower Mound Senior Center is tentatively set to reopen June 15.
The CAC outdoor pool will reopen, and CAC normal business hours will resume July 4.
Summer camp will be available beginning July 6.