The White Rock Tritons are trying to stay sharp for a baseball season that may never come.
Or, less pessimistically – for a season with a still-to-be-determined start date.
Under normal circumstances, the youth baseball program – which includes bantam (U15), junior (U16) and senior teams (U18) – would be ramping up its training sessions and pre-season games, with first pitch in mid-April looming. But instead, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has cancelled sports seasons worldwide and left many sheltering-in-place, the Tritons and their fellow ballplayers are preparing for the day that they’re finally allowed to hit the field.
The U18 BC Premier Baseball League season, for example, was originally schedule to begin on Easter weekend (April 11-12), but those dates will be pushed ahead. Tritons head coach/general manager Kyle Dhanani said a conference call with coaches and other league personnel was planned for this week, where they would try to come up with contingency plans.
“Just sort of a brainstorm session to see where we’re at,” he explained. “But most likely, I’d say we’ll be postponed until at least May, to start. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.”
The Tritons did manage to squeeze in an abridged version of their annual Arizona spring-training trip, earlier this month, however. Players and coaches headed to Tucson March 11 and 12, Dhanani said – which was just a day before both Baseball BC and Baseball Canada clamped down on practices and games, and four days before Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau advised all Canadians who were travelling abroad to return home.
“We were already down there… so I called the league and they said it was fine, as long as we followed the proper precautions,” Dhanani said.
“And at the time, there had only been one case (of COVID-19) in Tucson, so at the time, it almost felt like we were safer there than we would have been getting on a plane and travelling home, especially because we flew out of Seattle.”
Washington has been one of the U.S. states hardest hit by the virus.
Though other teams pulled out of the week-long event that the Tritons were originally scheduled to play in, the South Surrey-based club did manage to play a handful of games, including some of the intra-squad variety, before coming home on March 17, a few days earlier than first planned.
Since returning home, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened, but despite players – and others – being in self-isolation, Dhanani said the team as a whole hasn’t missed too much yet, though a few upcoming plans have been cancelled.
“Technically, we’re still in spring break so we didn’t really have much scheduled anyway – just some optional practices,” he said.
“But we did have some (exhibition) games scheduled for this weekend, and we were supposed to head to Kamloops soon, too, with our senior and bantam teams. The seniors were going to take part in a big showcase (event) there, but that’s obviously been cancelled.”
In the meantime, team members will continue to prepare as best they can. Dhanani said coaches have already chatted via video-conference once, and “starting next week, we’ll set up some weekly workout schedules for the (players).”
Left to their own devices – aside from video sessions with coaches – the players, Dhanani said, will hopefully find ways to train at home, even if it means doing wind sprints in their own driveways or on their streets, as long as social-distancing rules are still being followed.
As well, if players need equipment from the team, a pickup system will be worked out, he added.
“The guys will have to workout or throw a ball around with whoever they have… hopefully some of the dads can throw it as far as their kids can.
“There’s still a lot of stuff you can do. Whether it’s (hitting into) a net, or using a tee… you just have to get a little old school about it.”