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Together Again

Frewsburg Soccer Club Marks Return To Action For Youth Sports

Members of the Frewsburg Soccer Club practiced at the home of Scott Stone, president and head coach, on Monday evening as youth sports teams were allowed to return to action in New York state. P-J photo by Matt Spielman

For several weeks, young athletes in New York state have had July 6 circled on their calendars.

On Monday evening, the Frewsburg Soccer Club took full advantage of that enthusiasm.

Scott Stone, FSC president and head coach, hosted close to a 100 of his players at his Widdy Bostwick Road home for their first socially distanced practice of the summer.

“It’s not the most ideal situation,” Stone said about practicing in his yard. “As we were getting closer, we wanted to be prepared for any situation. We were hoping it didn’t come to this, but when we were doing the Zooms we thought we would love to do them in person.”

Players in the 10U age group practiced from 5-6 p.m. and after a 15-minute buffer, players in the 12U and 14U age groups had their practice. After a final 15-minute buffer, Stone hosted players from his 16U and 18U teams. Temperatures ranged from the mid- to upper 80s all evening.

Frewsburg sophomore Zach Carr dribbles the ball. P-J photo by Matt Spielman

“Right now we are going to go three or four times a week, take it really slow and try to get everybody in shape,” Stone said. ” … The plan is to go slow and take it day by day. We’ll try to get some friendly games soon.”

FSC had clearly marked spots for each player to set their belongings in the yard 6 feet apart from each other. There were more marked locations to do individual drills while maintaining distance in the middle of the field. From March until last week, FSC had hosted Zoom conference calls with its members to go over conditioning exercises and individual soccer ball skills, but had a hard time simulating team exercises.

“It feels a lot different when you are with your team practicing,” said Zach Carr, who will be a Frewsburg sophomore this fall. “It makes you work a lot harder.”

“It’s nice to be back with my teammates and catching up with them,” added Ava Hultberg, who will be a senior at Frewsburg this fall. “It’s nice to see them and get back to work with them.”

On June 18, the New York State Department of Health released a 14-page document titled Interim Guidance For Sports and Recreation During The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency that stated low-risk and moderate-risk sports and recreation activities could resume July 6 as long as the region in which they are played is in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening guidelines.

Scott Stone, Frewsburg Soccer Club president and head coach, speaks to some of his 18U and 16U players during practice at his home Monday evening. P-J photo by Matt Spielman

“It was the best day of the whole summer as far as I’m prepared,” Stone said of the June 18 announcement. “As soon as we got that news we started making plans right away. Obviously you have to be prepared to meet all the regulations.”

New York State West Youth Soccer Association, the governing body for most local leagues acknowledged the announcement on its website that night, reposting the key portions of the document.

“NYS West sent out the return to play waiver. Everybody has to sign a waiver and go through the proper steps every single practice before they check in,” Stone said. “Once they go to the tent and hand all that stuff in they are allowed to enter the practice field.”

While teams can now practice and play against other local teams, they are still unable to play in travel tournaments — especially across state lines.

On June 24, Gov. Cuomo’s office put a travel ban in place for people traveling to or coming from states with significant community spread of COVID-19. Anybody on a team that traveled to an at-risk state to play would be required to quarantine for 14 days upon returning to New York.

The order included these bullet points for youth sports:

¯ Per NYS Forward: For low and moderate risk sports and recreation that are allowed to begin on July 6, tournaments that require travel outside of the region or beyond contiguous counties are prohibited;

¯ For participants in higher risk sports and recreation activities — only individual or distanced group training & organized no/low contact group training are allowed;

¯ We are recommending no travel for any sport that would take players, coaches and families outside the region.

FSC has taken the recommendations one step further and even though they are allowed to scrimmage or play other local teams as of Monday, the club will only take part in practices for the next couple of weeks.

“A bunch of coaches in the Southern Tier Travel League … everybody is pretty much on the same page as far as letting their kids have a couple of weeks to get in the swing of things,” Stone said. “The plan is to get all of our teams a game or two.”

And if teams are unable to get games scheduled this summer, at least the older players will be ready for their high school seasons — if and when they are played this fall.

“I pray every day that we get to play high school soccer,” Stone said. “I coach Frewsburg, but I have a bunch of other high school kids from all over the area. … I feel like it’s my job to make sure that every kid who plays for any high school that is in my club, it’s our job to get them in the best shape possible for their school season.”

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