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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Local sports returning to play

by Garrett Fodor

After more than a year away from being a part of their sports teams and connecting with teammates, local athletes are hitting the field and beginning to gain a sense of normalcy once again.

  With COVID-19 cases across Windsor-Essex County and around the province declining, youth are returning to the diamonds and fields, following the year-long hiatus. In the heart of summer, local leagues would normally be halfway through their seasons, but instead are just weeks into play and administrators are still trying to work out any kinks along the way. Participating youths, athletes, and parents alike, are delighted to be back outdoors participating in the sports they love.

  While things may not be the same as when they left, organizers are trying to adapt to the COVID guidelines and keep the sport the same. 

  “July 17th would have been our first week for our youth program, but with the weather, we quickly shifted to the 24th,” Shaun Fuerth said, who is the Vice Chairperson of St. Mary’s Park. “We’re excited to be back. We’ve taken extra precaution, adding COVID contact tracing, purchasing more equipment for players to use and avoid sharing, along with offering hand sanitizer throughout the park and sanitizing between the games.”

  Fuerth noted that with the later start, they have shortened their baseball season to get them completed in time. This year, St. Mary’s is offering an eight-week youth season and a 10-week adult season for the nearly 400 registered participants. He added that this year will not feature the year-end fun day for the youth or year-end playoff barbecue for the adults. 

  Essex Minor Baseball has been operating since July 4, following the provincial guidelines and those outlined by Baseball Ontario. Included is that contact tracing be in place for players and spectators. COVID protocols are also in place, along with regular cleaning between uses. For local fields, spectators are strongly encouraged to maintain social distance.


“I think the focus is going to be the mental health part of it, baseball is secondary this year,” Bill Fenton said, who is the Travel Convenor for Essex Minor Baseball, regarding the return to play protocol. The youths have been anxiously waiting to play since May. “The kids are out there having fun. It’s a safe environment and they get to connect with some friends and make new friends. Parents get to see their kids having fun and enjoying it. Mental health is definitely, I think, going to be an aspect for most baseball in Ontario this year.” 

  Baseball in Essex is already in full swing, with their seasons wrapping up towards the end of August this year.

  On the ice locally, the Essex 73’s of the Provincial Junior Hockey League is undergoing its off-season preparations and getting ready for the 2021-22 season. Tentatively, the season is slated to begin on October 1, with the schedule to be released in the coming weeks. With the announcement, the Essex 73’s has also announced a return to the ice, beginning with a mini-camp on August 17.

  The 73’s also announced the addition of rookie forward Brendan Gouin from Windsor AAA. During the 2019-20 season, the now 17-year-old registered 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points in 32 games.

  Under current provincial guidelines, there are no restrictions for people on the ice surface and for spectators, they can be at 50 percent capacity or 1,000 people, with other restrictions in place.

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