State Softball tournament tests new safety protocols
HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - It is a busy day in Hastings as the State Softball Championship continues at the Smith Softball Complex. Fans and teams are learning how to adjust to the new safety protocols that helped allow the event to go on.
During the first day of the tournament, the NSAA already had to make some changes to safety protocols but they say they are doing everything to keep the teams and the fans safe while they are in town this week.
For fans, they are expected to wear masks any time they are within six feet of someone else. In the stands every other row is blocked off and fans for each school have to crowd together to keep from too much mixing. As the tournament goes on, the NSAA is learning how to best manage the crowd.
“One of the last minute changes was the teams all have to have masks on in the dugout when they are not competing on the field,” NSAA Assistant Director Dan Masters said. “We’re doing some different things with foul ball strategies where softballs aren’t being used by multiple teams and touched or handled by the umpires. We are disinfecting dugouts.”
With the concerns of how the virus may change sports, teams are happy to get to compete. Host team Hastings High School said their players are thankful to show off their hard work.
“A lot of uncertainty through the course of the season. So you see the teams walk in and they take a look at their banners. I think they’re really excited that we’ve gotten to this point,” said Tracy Douglas, Hastings High School Activities Director.
The tournament is the first large state competition since the pandemic started and it is a bit of a test of how to handle the following tournaments. NSAA said they want to be able to give kids the chance to experience things as normally as possible.
“It comes down to kids. Kids get to be in high school one time. Our organization’s mission is to give kids opportunities and activities and if we can have state championships in a safe, healthy manner we want to make that opportunity available for our student athletes,” Masters said.
The tournament continues through Friday and announcements will be made if any other safety changes are made. They said a lot of the same protocols will be applied to the Cross Country State Championship next week in Kearney. They will have the virtual tickets and fans will have to spread out based on their schools.
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