Normally at this time, youth sports aside from normal school competition is starting to develop with summer Little League baseball and softball, club basketball and preparations for the upcoming Tucson Youth Football and Sports Federation season.
With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing social distancing and stay-at-home orders, the youth sports teams and organizations have placed their operations on hold.
TYFSF president Julius Holt, a former Arizona football standout and an assistant coach at Tanque Verde, has issued a letter to team presidents, coaches and families about his organization’s stance on dealing with COVID-19.
“During this time of uncertainty, the focus of TYFSF is the kids, the families that entrust their children to our associations, and our countless volunteers,” Holt wrote. “The goal is to do our best to make sure everyone stays safe and healthy. It’s more important than ever before at this time of this pandemic for us to get it right.
Holt continued that it is his job and that of other TYFSF administrators “to make decisions that are in the best interest of our athletes, families, and volunteers. I hope everyone can respect that. We are a family and we will navigate through this process together. We want to promote the importance of staying in a safe space, social distancing, continued distance learning opportunities, healthy life choices, and family time.”
Trainers and young athletes have posted videos of outdoor workout sessions on social media. Most have appeared to include less than 10 people and the athletes are away from the general public at a park. However, Holt wanted to make it clear with his letter that TYFSF first and foremost is stressing the safety and well-being of all involved as being most important.
“Again, our priority is the welfare of the kids, parents and volunteers,” Holt wrote.. “TYFSF began addressing this issue two months ago when we ceased the operation of the flag program and any activities surrounding it. We have strongly urged all independently operated (structured & non structured) conditioning, speed training and group activities that are not practicing social distancing to cease as well.
“At this present time we can’t say with any certainty what the future holds regarding these type activities. The best course of action is to simply be ready if/when the ‘all clear’ is received.”
Holt encouraged the youngsters, including cheerleaders, to continue individual workouts at home to stay in shape. He mentioned he has shared with team presidents links to free online coaching clinics so coaches can also “stay sharp.”
In terms of the 2020 season that starts in the fall, Holt mentioned: “As a board, we have not established a hard timeline yet regarding the upcoming season. This is due to shifting governmental responses to the coronavirus and what is considered best practices for everyone’s safety and welfare.
“Lastly, let’s remember that football & cheer is a game. Our health and well-being have far more importance than this game. When the time is right, sports will return, and kids will begin playing and cheering again. Until then stay safe and act responsibly.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.