By Rick Cawley
For the Review
Amid the uncertainty of our times, the Roxborough Eagles and Wissahickon Braves organizations have both started practices aimed at having a fall football season. Both organizations are forging ahead with the commitment of providing their child athletes with an opportunity to compete in the Keystone State League with a tentative schedule that would begin near the end of September.
Some of the member organizations of the KSL have opted out of the 2020 season for various reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the teams within city limits were unable to obtain field permits through the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation department which is not issuing permits to large group activities at their facilities at this time.
However, the Eagles and Braves leadership feel that they are taking the necessary precautions and adhering to safety protocols to ensure their players can have a productive season, albeit a shortened one. Player numbers do not seem to be a problem. Braves President Debbie Martelon, insists that each of the various weight classifications will be “ready to play come September.” The Eagles are apparently bursting at the seams with player signups.
Roxborough Eagles President Jerry “Bart” Bartholomew related that the Eagles will be employing the basic model that was utilized by the 21st Ward Jr. Baseball and Softball League this summer, with a few twists that are more relevant to football. He envisions hand sanitizer stations for the players as well as staff routinely spraying down balls and disinfecting blocking pads. He emphasized that ”we’re gonna do all we can to help our kids have a football season.”
The 21st Ward Jr. League was able to provide both in-house and travel teams a chance to compete in league play and tournaments while strictly following the mandates for safe gatherings with apparently no incidence of viral infections.
The coaches have been wearing masks and encouraging the players to do social distancing whenever feasible. The coaches have also been reinforcing concepts to help ensure the players safety and well being during practice. Eagles coach Vince Veneziale was at practice recently barking at his players the importance of “taking good care of yourselves and making healthy decisions” and reminding them that they are a key component of making this planned season work out.
The spectators are expected to do their part as well. They will be encouraged to spread out around the fields perimeter at safe distancing and avoid the bleachers and other gathering areas.
The players have been engaged in basic skill work, agility drills and conditioning workouts as they lead up to “putting on the pads”. Along with the coaching staff, the youngsters are pushing themselves in all phases of the game to make this season happen.
It would certainly be a shame if the bottom were to drop out like so many other high school and collegiate entities have experienced after putting in all that work. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that but this is unknown terrain we’re navigating and we’ve become inured to seeing the best laid plans go south. Yet, for now, it’s “all systems go.”