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SSUSA Prepares To Reopen Sport
April 1, 2020
With many state shelter-in-place orders set to expire this week, Senior Softball-USA (SSUSA) today, April 29, announces several new rules and recommendations (see below) designed to make senior tournaments and senior leagues safer for players, directors and umpires.
In a conference call this week (Tuesday, April 28), a group of 38 SSUSA staff, directors, Umpire-in-Chiefs and a medical professional discussed these recommendations to help the sport begin to phase back in.
The recommendations focus on social contact - before, during and after games; the dugout; manager meetings; check-in at the field; the game; and personal hygiene.
A few of the highlights of the recommendaitons include: keeping six (6) feet of distance in and out of the dugout, no manager meetings, game cards will be used for player check-ins, no water jugs will be provided in dugouts, and mandatory for catchers to wear a covering over their nose and mouth.
This is an ever-changing situation in each state, so these very likely will be modified as the situation in each state changes (see story on states that have qualifiers scheduled in late May and June below).
NEW SSUSA RULES AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Social Contact before, during and after games:
• There will be a “no-contact, no-handshake policy” to be observed at every level of the organization until further notice. This includes all physical contact and extends to customary game-related activities, such umpire-coach introductions, and post-game handshakes between members of opposing teams. Instead, staff, players and coaches should verbally “good game,” without shaking hands, high-fiving or fist-bumping.
• Players will be expected to maintain social distancing before and after the game – and during the game when possible.
• Managers will be responsible for keeping any sick players or players in quarantine out of the tournament.
• Spectators will be required to maintain social distancing during the tournament.
• Keep 6 feet of distance in and out of dugout. Players will be required to separate and in most cases be in and out of the dugout on the outside of the field fences to maintain space.
• Players will NOT be allowed to spread out on the field of play because of the inherent danger of being hit by a foul ball.
• When one team leaves the dugout, next team will need to wait until all players have exited, then enter.
• The team leaving the dugout will need to police the dugout and get rid of trash, especially empty drinking containers.
• Park personnel will be asked to periodically disinfect the dugouts.
• Until is it safe to gather in groups of more than 10, SSUSA will forgo all manager meetings. All information pertaining to a specific tournament will be sent to managers via email before the tournament begins. A copy of the Manager Notes will be available in paper copy.
• Managers will receive their updated rosters with the Manager Instructions. It is up to the manager to let the Director know if there are any changes at the field before the team begins playing.
• We will be sending managers new Team Waiver Forms that each player will need to sign before playing, saying they understand softball is a game of risk and that there is always a risk in group activities of contracting viruses or other illnesses.
• Until the pandemic subsides, we will change our player check-in to minimize groups and contact.
• For the remainder of this season, players will not check in individually. Managers will fill in the back of the lineup cards with first and last names of all players present before each game and directors will use the lineup cards to check in the players for that tournament after the game.
• Managers will be responsible for letting directors know about any changes to the roster before their first game.
• Managers will receive the balls, a pencil and a Sharpie to use during the tournament to mark balls, fill in the lineup cards and sign the cards at the end of the game.
• We will be providing directors and umpires with either masks or face shields. These will be worn during tournaments to protect officials who have multiple contacts with managers and players.
• It will be mandatory for catchers to wear a covering over their nose and mouth.
• We encourage players to wear masks when in the dugouts during the game.
• Managers will keep the game balls and we recommend they disinfect the balls they throw in each inning.
• As a backup, Umpires will be provided with spray disinfectant and rags to wipe balls off if necessary.
• The on-deck batter or a player assigned by the offensive team will wear gloves and be responsible for picking up the bat after it is used.
• We will NOT be supplying community water jugs for obvious reasons until the pandemic is over. Players will need to supply their own individual water.
• As supplies are available, we will be selling face masks, face shields and gaiters for players who want to buy them.
• We will be using single umpires for all games to help offset the increased costs of housing umpires in hotels alone. (Usually umpires share rooms). This will help keep your entry fees in place.
• Any gatherings of teams or players before or after games will need to follow personal distancing recommendations of being 6 feet apart. Beer, by the way, is not an approved COVID-19 treatment.
• Most important: Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Cover your mouth and nose – with a tissue, if possible – when coughing or sneezing, then properly discard the tissue in the trash.
• Avoid close contact with anyone else who is coughing or sneezing or who is otherwise sick. People who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms will be asked to leave the park.
• Wash your hands often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time.
• If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
IMPORTANT: We will be enforcing these safety measures so that we can get back on the fields as soon as possible in the safest way for all of our players and officials. We will be ejecting any player or guest who refuses to follow these safety rules for the good of everyone else in the park.
We appreciate your cooperation in following these new procedures as we work together to maintain the highest health and safety standards.
SSUSA’s primary concern is the health and welfare of players, officials and their families.
On March 16, SSUSA announced a cancellation of all tournament play for 60 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with an anticipation to return to the fields in mid-May.
Many of the major tournaments in March and April that were initially cancelled, such as the Spring National Championships, Spring World Championships, the Texas State Championships, and the LVSSA/SSUSA Southwest Championships, were rescheduled for later in the summer. Other regional qualifiers, such as the Oil City Classic, DFW Classic, and Gainesville Qualifier have new dates as well due to rescheduling.
Be sure to visit https://seniorsoftball.com/?events for all up-to-date information regarding SSUSA tournaments.
To help state and local officials when reopening, President Trump unveiled Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, a three-phased approach based on the advice of public health experts.
Regarding large venues (e.g., sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship), under phase 1, they can operate under strict physical distancing protocols, and under phase 2, they can operate under moderate physical distancing protocols.
With SSUSA's above recommendations, we hope to be able to run tournaments closer to phase 1, depending on the indiviudal city decisions.
Below are states where SSUSA hopes to once again host tournaments in May and June, along with the anticipated end dates on the shelter-in-place orders for those respective states.
Nevada - Order in place through 4/30
ROCK 'N RENO CHALLENGE CUP Reno, NV
SSUSA has received the most questions regarding the Rock 'n Reno Challenge Cup, as the City of Sparks (Golden Eagle and Shadow Mountain) has cancelled all events through the end of May.
SSUSA is planning to re-schedule the Men's 60s through 85s divisions for June 2-4. The Men's 40s through 55s divisions and Women's divisions will depend on field availability on two weekends. SSUSA is hoping to maintain that last weekend in May 29-31 with Reno and Carson City fields, and the first weekend in June 5-7 depending on field availability.
SSUSA will make an announcement once all details are confirmed.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak held a press conference today and said he would announce details on reopening tomorrow, 4/30. The reopening of Nevada will also happen in line with the Western State's Pact.
Oklahoma - Order in place through 4/30
May 14 - May 17: Oil City Classic Tulsa, OK
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt announced the state's three-phase plan. A partial rollout of phase 1 began April 24 with personal care businesses, and will continue May 1 with restaurants, chuches, gyms, movie theaters. Phase 2 is set to begin on May 15, and includes organized sports activities.
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum explained what to expect in phase 1 for the city, which mentions sports that lend themselves to social distancing will be open with social distancing and hygiene in place.
Again, with SSUSA's recommendations, we hope to have the Oil City Classic jumpstart the 2020 season.
Michigan - Order in place through 5/15
May 16 - May 17: Bobby Chapp Memorial Lansing, MI
June 27 - June 28: Holiday Classic Sturgis, MI
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to hold a press conference today (4/29).
Tournament Director Mike Dembicki is going to have a call with the city of Lansing on Friday (5/1). We should have more information then.
Pennsylvania - Order in place through 5/8
May 16 - May 17: Battle of the Roses York, PA
SSUSA has been in contact with park officials in York. We should have more information next week and be able to make a decision on holding the tournament.
New Mexico - Order in place through 4/30
May 16 - May 17: High Desert Duel Albuquerque, NM (CANCELLED)
June 27 - June 28: Women's Western Classic Las Cruces, NM
The High Desert Duel in Albuquerque has been cancelled. The Women's Western Classic in Las Cruces is still scheduled.
Arizona - Order in place through 4/30
May 30 - May 31: 40s Mountain Madness I Flagstaff, AZ (CANCELLED)
June 13 - June 14: Mountain Madness I Flagstaff, AZ
June 20 - June 21: 40s Cool Country Classic I Prescott, AZ
Rick Seifman, SSUSA National and Arizona State Director, said that parks aren’t going to consider re-opening until May 14, so he is hoping to start in June. We will know by May 29 if they are going to open. These tournaments are contingent upon the cities opening parks.
Missouri - Order in place through 5/3
June 4 - June 14: Missouri Open Columbia, MO
From Missouri Governor Mike Parson: All Missouri businesses and social events will be allowed to reopen next week, as long as residents and business owners continue to practice proper social distancing requirements.
Maryland - No end date, indefinite
May 29 - May 31: CRABTOWN CLASSIC Glen Burnie, MD
June 13 - June 14: The Old Line State Showdown Westminster, MD
SSUSA National and Mid-Atlantic Director TIm McElroy has been in contact with the local fields. We hope to have more information next week.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is hopeful to begin the reopening process in early May.
Minnesota - Order in place through 5/3
June 4 - June 7: Steve Simmons Memorial/Mosquitoland Classic Little Canada, MN
Nonessential Minnesota businesses have begun to gradually re-open.
Texas - Order in place through 4/30
June 4 - June 7: DFW Classic Grapevine, TX
Texas restaurants, movie theaters, and malls set to open with limited capacity on Friday, 5/1
California - No end date, indefinite
June 12 - June 17: NORTHERN CALIFORNIA STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS Sacramento, CA
June 16 - June 21: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS Hemet, CA
SSUSA is in contact with local facilities.
California Governor Gavin Newsome has outlined a reopening plan.
Washington - Order in place through 5/4*
June 13 - June 14: Northwest Cup Lacey, WA
June 25 - June 28: Inland Empire Classic Spokane, WA
Washington Governor Jay Inslee has announced order will likely extend beyond 5/4.
Florida - Order in place through 4/30
June 19 - June 21: Sunshine State Showdown Ft. Myers, FL
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will hold a press conference today to announce plan on reopening.
Illinois - Order in place through 5/30
June 20 - June 26: Quad City Classic Rock Island, IL
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker hopes to begin reopening in June.