Play ball! Little Leaguers return to the diamond – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Travel
In the Great Smoky Mountains, fireflies have become a source of tourism — and solace
Entertainment
Athenaeum Jazz at Scripps Research concerts to celebrate 25th anniversary after 2020 COVID-19 shutdown
Columns
A perfect storm of crises and instability leading Haitian migrants to seek U.S. asylum
Politics
Outcry over granny flat construction in San Diego prompts rule change proposals
Books
In ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land,’ Anthony Doerr crafts a patchwork of connections
Visual Arts
Meet artist Mary Jhun: Exploring mortality and obsession through her art
Music
Alanis Morissette talks ‘Jagged Little Pill’ album and possible Tony Awards sweep: ‘I still pinch myself!’
Columns
Column: Missed opportunity: Bills to help turn commercial areas into housing failed
Health
San Diego’s Latino vaccination rates rise above most other ethnic groups
Oceanside
Oceanside action sports athlete is the world’s No. 1 wingsuit flyer
After a solid year of “twiddling your thumbs” in front of a computer, Little Leaguer Nautus Van de Gryp spent Saturday morning with his teammates on the North Park Jedi, fielding grounders, running bases and diving to catch fly balls.
“I honestly thought, when am I ever going to get back to playing baseball?” the 13-year-old said. “It was a long time, just sitting there and waiting.”
With COVID-19 restrictions easing, ballfields and playgrounds across the county are opening back up. The baseball complex at Morley Field Saturday morning teemed with players and coaches from the North Park Little League. Parents lined the fences, shouting encouragement. The snack bar hasn’t opened yet but nobody was complaining.
“It’s like coming out a cave,” said Janna Ferraro, vice president of North Park Little League, which fields teams for boys and girls ages 4 through 15. “It has been such a rough year.”
A mother of two players, Ferraro is also the coach of the North Park Bulldogs in the 9- and 10-year-old division.
“Getting back out here, being able to see their friends again, watching them run around, my kids have never been more worn out and have never been more happy,” Ferraro said.
Like so many youth sports organizations, the North Park Little League shut down operations last March — just days after the season started. Registrations for the 2021 season opened back up in January at a sharply reduced price but Ferraro said league officials wondered how many parents would sign their kids up.
They were pleasantly surprised to register 330 players — fairly close to the 385 the league recorded in 2020.
“It can’t be understated how important it is for kids to get out and participate in a healthy diversion like baseball or other sports,” said Mark Hopkins, who pulled double-duty Saturday, umpiring in the morning and coaching his son’s team in the afternoon. “Also, the socialization, being with their peers, is so good for these kids.”
The reopening of outdoor activities comes as concerns grow about what kind of physical and psychological effects that stay-at-home orders have put on children in the past year.
A study conducted by the Aspen Institute and North Carolina State and Utah State reported that during the pandemic children, on average, spent about 6-1/2 fewer hours a week playing sports and 29 percent said they are no longer interested in playing sports.
At Morley Field, pandemic protocols remained in place.
“Essentially, we follow county guidelines,” Ferraro said.
Masks are required, social distancing is enforced and temperatures are taken of players, coaches and volunteers when they arrive. “And,” Ferraro said, “every team is given a big ole jug of sanitizer.
Rather than standing in the dugout, Jedi manager Lucas Handelsman coached his team near the diamond’s chain-link fence.
“We’re getting the rust off,” Handelsman said. “It feels great to get the kids back out here. My focus to just letting them have a good time.”
Before the season started, 13-year-old outfielder Devin Manns said he spent most of his time inside. “I wasn’t doing much, playing video games. It’s good to be outside, getting exercise.”
Get Essential San Diego, weekday mornings
Get top headlines from the Union-Tribune in your inbox weekday mornings, including top news, local, sports, business, entertainment and opinion.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Follow Us
More from this Author
Business
A blast into a clean energy future? Scientists tout nuclear fusion breakthrough

Phenomenal women series
Phenomenal San Diego women in business

Business
Encinitas just banned natural gas in new buildings, including homes

Business
‘We’ve been completely plowed over’: Jacumba residents sue to stop 600-acre solar project

Energy
San Diego looks for partner to build $1.5B San Vicente hydro energy project

Energy
Judge tosses out lawsuit that sought to stop San Onofre nuclear plant dismantlement

More in this section
Santee
Santee officials attack SANDAG’s transit-centered plan: ‘It’s a frickin slap in the face’
Agency’s executive director says there will be no freeway expansions in the future

El Cajon
El Cajon working to better outreach in immigrant community
Focus groups, survey helped the city get a feel for what it needs to improve

San Diego
San Diego group wants to create a Black arts district, to share and preserve culture
Artists and residents want eight blocks of Imperial Avenue to be hub for Black business, art

North County
Camp Marston marks 100 years of skits, s’mores and sing-alongs, but can it survive another century?
Longtime Julian camp director says endowment needed to ensure the future of YMCA’s beloved children’s retreat

Chula Vista
Ready to recycle your food waste? Chula Vista wants to help
Organic material will be processed at a new composting facility in Otay Landfill

A Path Forward
Becoming an ally: The time to act is now
In July, the National Conflict Resolution Center hosted a conversation about gender equity in the workplace, featuring two leaders from business and government: Jane Howard-Martin, vice president, labor and employment for Toyota Motor North America, and Susan Davis, former 10-term member of Congress from California’s 53rd District.

Most read local stories
Camp Marston marks 100 years of skits, s’mores and sing-alongs, but can it survive another century?

Upcoming sale of Fulton Hill ends family’s 128-year legacy in San Marcos

Oceanside action sports athlete is the world’s No. 1 wingsuit flyer

San Diego Unified to discuss potential vaccine mandate for staff, eligible students

Golden Door luxury spa-to-the-stars opens year-round country store in San Marcos

Drive-by birthdays replacing traditional milestone celebrations

Carlsbad rejects county’s purchase of property near airport

Pride Month declaration stirs emotions in Carlsbad

From our community papers
VV Hair Salon brings Italian haircutting techniques to La Jolla
Sports
Pacific Ridge School’s Dylan Oyama wins Toyota Tour Cup

Lifestyle
Robert J. Borthwick named Serving Seniors board of directors chairman

Lifestyle
Two new directors named to board of Del Mar Community Connections

Lifestyle
Future Legends Ambassadors mentor new scholars

Lifestyle
TPHS students help local immigrants become U.S. citizens

Events
Online ‘Friends Night Out’ event to feature the rich history of Chicano Park

Events
Fresh Start Surgical Gifts to host annual ‘Butterfly Ball’

Events
Fresh Start Surgical Gifts to host annual ‘Butterfly Ball’

Events
2021 San Diego Walk to End Alzheimer’s to be held Oct. 9

Connect with us
Subscribe to email newsletters from the Union-Tribune about news, sports, business, opinion and more. Also sign up for our community newspaper newsletters, and CaregiverSD.

Privacy Policy
Terms of Service
Sign Up For Our Newsletters
Follow Us

source