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50th FSS working to save intramural softball season

softball, intramural

Chloe Babcock, 1st Space Operations Squadron, throws a ball into the infield during the annual intramural softball championship game at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Aug. 22, 2018. Due to COVID-19, intramural volleyball canceled the remainder of its season. The 50th Force Support Squadron fitness center staff continues to work to ensure softball has a season. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dennis Rogers)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

The 50th Force Support Squadron fitness staff continue to develop ways to resume its intramural season after COVID-19 forced a stoppage in play.

Shortly after volleyball season began in March, the pandemic required Airmen to cancel their remaining games. Now, Charles Thornton, 50th FSS recreation assistant, said they’re working to ensure the same doesn’t happen with softball and future intramural activities.

“Social distancing is definitely one of the key factors we want to still use with a lot of units still coming back and a lot of buildings still coming back to 100 percent manning,” Thornton said. “We’re trying to look at that and Col. Smith, [50th Space Wing commander’s], email about outdoor activities. We’re trying to get people together and figure out how this can be the best.”  

Thornton noted the importance of the four pillar – mental, social, physical and spiritual – and how intramurals play a role to help Airmen throughout the year.

“We want to provide for [Airmen] so they have an outlet to get out of the office and get some group morale and continue with their day afterward,” Thornton said. “If they have a great game, they’ll talk about it for the rest of the day. They’ll talk about how someone had a great hit or a great catch or the winning hit. Within that, we hope people are safe but we’re obviously in a tough time.”

Thornton said fitness center staff understands with sports, Airmen will be closer to one another. It’s a topic they’re configuring prior to a potential start for softball, which normally begins around Memorial Day and now will likely begin early July.

To combat potential spread of COVID-19, Thornton said they’re working with Rocky Mountain Sports Officials, who provide officiating crews for Schriever games, for guidance on a potential softball season.

Thornton said RMSO recommended various precautions to limit contact and ensure player safety including sterilizing baseball bats, limiting players in the dugout and more.

“They’re using a lot more softballs per game than what they typically did in the past because people are going to be more conscious of touching the ball,” Thornton said. “They’re trying to keep the ball clean and wipe it down and add more [balls] in each game so there might be in excess of 12 balls used but they’re cleaning them and trying to interchange them to keep them clean.”

With these precautions and guidelines in place, Thornton said they hope to have a full season but have shorter breaks between sports. Normally, teams have two to three weeks between each sport to prepare for the upcoming season.

“We’re going to see how everything goes when the teams put their letters of intent in and when we have the coaches meeting,” Thornton said. “Safety is the number one concern, group morale is number two and enjoying getting out of the office and playing. And of course three is getting competition back.”

Seth Cannello, 50th FSS fitness center director, said if enough teams submit letters of intent today, they’ll hold a coaches meeting June 29.

“This meeting, assuming we have a season, will be particularly important because we are going to have to enforce special rules to ensure physical distancing and to keep everyone as safe as possible,” Cannello said.

However, if fewer than five teams sign up, they’ll forego a normal season and have a round-robin style tournament. If fewer than five sign up, the fitness center will focus on restarting football in August.

For additional information regarding softball or intramurals, contact Thornton at 567-6628.

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