Local youth sports making a slow return

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BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

Youth sports are trying to make a comeback.

Last month, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in Florida started back competition.

Local AAU clubs like the New Wave girls’ basketball program in Daytona, which fields a high school aged girls’ squad, is back in competition.

“We’re up and running,” said Brandon Stewart, president of New Wave.

It’s been challenging just keeping it all together.

Stewart emphasized, “It’s really unpredictable. It’s tough just getting everyone on the same page. Some parents don’t feel as comfortable as others when it comes to practices and tournaments. They are either more comfortable with practices or tournaments and vice versa.”

In training

B.A.L.D.Y. Athletics is a youth sports and mentoring program that operates in the Daytona Beach area. It halted its AAU basketball program, including postponing its jamboree back in March.

“We aren’t doing any traveling. We are currently doing basketball training but not travel basketball,” said Terry Johnson, president of B.A.L.D.Y. Athletics.

The program plans to add two new sports travel teams.

“We were going to do 11U or 10U baseball and high school age for 7-on-7 flag football, but that’s on hold,” noted Johnson.

Safety measures

Youth football programs are set to start soon or have already started practicing.

The Volusia County Sharks who compete in the Indian River Youth Football & Conference have already begun practice. Their season is set to start Aug. 22.

Youth football leagues and programs are implementing measures such as daily temperature checks, coaches wearing masks and gloves, and players bringing their own water.

“We try to follow the CDC guidelines. It’s a matter of staying on top of it in order to keep everyone safe,” commented Dahryll Brown, president and commissioner of the Volusia County Sharks.

The Daytona Beach Buccaneers compete in Pop Warner’s Florida East Coast Conference. They began practice on Aug. 1.

“We have safety measures in place. We started with implementing them in our camp last week, Tommy Roland, commissioner for the Daytona Beach Buccaneers said in late July. “We’re doing all we can to practice social distancing and keep everyone safe.’’

Football pushed back

Right now, football is set to start on time. However, some things are being pushed back due to safety concerns.

“Over in the Mid-Florida Football Conference for Pop Warner, they won’t start practice until Aug. 31. I wish we did the same. It would help us with our practice situation and as well as safety measures. They only thing we had pushed back so far is our jamboree from Aug. 22 to Aug. 29,” said Roland.

The Sharks will push back the start of their season.

Brown said, “I put out a memo telling everyone we will put things on hold. I am really terrified of what is going on. I don’t want a parent or kid to get sick on my watch. It’s just in the best interest for everyone. It’s a scary situation,” said Brown.

Facilities closed

Local teams are also having a hard time finding places for workouts and practices since facilities are closed. The city of Daytona Beach parks, fields and gymnasiums are closed.

“Our concern is that the city still has their facilities shut down. We’re looking for a place to practice,” said Roland.

Stewart added, “Facilities are always hard to get. We always practice outside anyway.”

The Sharks have had better luck at finding a place to practice.

Brown said, “We’ve been able to practice at Living Faith Church, but they will be starting school shortly. All the fields in the city are closed, so it’s a new obstacle.”

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