Youth sports return to Shamong

Participants see opportunities to play organized sports

A spring and summer of waiting and quarantining has come to an end with Shamong Township youth sports in full swing.

This fall’s roundup of sports offered by the Indian Mills Athletic Association, the governing body for activities, remains the same as last year, but with the addition of baseball and softball. The two sports’ spring seasons were butchered as COVID-19 cases spiked in Burlington County.

“They’re the same, and usually baseball and softball are done right now, but they decided to get a couple of more games on the weekends,” IMAA President Rick Ferrara noted. “A lot of practice to get out there and have some exercise and activity.”

The association’s soccer programs have seen about a dozen more families registering than in years past, especially those outside of Shamong. Ferrara said teams this year are traveling less to limit possible virus contacts. Contact with surrounding localities remains, though some fall sports programs have been cancelled.

Preparations for play were reviewed and altered until the board of trustees agreed to a final plan. Safety requirements include ample social distancing among spectators, staggered practices and face coverings if social distancing is not possible.

Signage posted at playing fields reminds spectators to stick to the guidelines set forth by the association, township and the state Department of Health. Ferrara said families have been mostly in compliance.

If a COVID case occurs, the IMAA president said affected activities will be suspended while contact tracing takes place and the infected person is quarantined. No positives were confirmed as of deadline.

Prior to the COVID shutdown in March, volunteers had installed new roofs on concession stands at Dingletown fields, repainted dugouts and made other upgrades to produce something “residents can be proud of.” Automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) have been provided by the  township’s Office of Emergency Management in case of an emergency at the fields. The devices were donated by Virtua Health and the Heart House Foundation.

“Unfortunately, this all happened and people have been pretty anxious to get out there,” Ferrara emphasized, ‘“and we have not needed to send out any warnings because parents have been supportive in getting out there and staying out there.”