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They said it couldn’t be done in times of Covid-19.

No sports, lockdowns the new norm, everything shut down for who knows how long.

But along came phase one of the re-opening plan, which was music to the ears of just about everyone in the territory, including the Yk Fastball League.

Softball was one of the sports which was allowed to get going as soon as phase one came into effect and, even though there’s only a maximum of 25 people allowed in one place at one time outdoors, it was music to the ears of Garrett Hinchey.

The league’s 2020 season is set to kick off in less than a week at Tommy Forrest Ball Park – June 15 – and teams are already getting into as good a game shape as they can in order to be ready.

Garrett Hinchey warms up his pitching arm during a team practice at Parker Park on Sunday. Hinchey is also president of the Yk Fastball League and their season gets underway on June 15.
James McCarthy/NNSL photo

Hinchey is the league’s president and he also plays with the Home Building Centre Cardinals, one of the league’s perennial prohibitive favourites.

He said everyone is itching to get out there and just play some ball.

“It’s been a very strange couple of months in a lot of ways but we’ve worked really hard and we feel pretty good about our plan,” he said. “Even if it’s a slightly modified season, at least the guys can get out and play some ball because they’re dying to do so.”

The fear of not being able to play this season was very real, he added, but as soon as softball was on the list of phase one sports, there was a collective sigh of relief.

“We were preparing for the likelihood of not playing this season,” he said. “There was that uncertainty because no one has ever gone through something like this so we didn’t know what to expect. You get a lot of knowledge of sports from the professional ranks and seeing what’s happening there – all the hoops they’re having to jump through – so we were hopeful but not terribly optimistic.”

Once the league found out it was good to go in phase one, the plan turned to how to make sure actual softball could actually happen within the scope of the rules laid out by Dr. Kami Kandola, the territory’s chief public health officer.

The league has laid out everything that will be happening this season as it pertains to game play, post-game and even the batting cage located back of centre field at the park.

Hinchey said the league has bought a lot of cleaning supplies for the teams in order to ensure everyone’s safety.

“Sanitizer, disinfectant and the like and we’ll be outfitting all of the teams with that,” he said. “We’ll have hand sanitizer stations inside the dugouts as well.”

The players themselves won’t be in the dugouts during the games, either. They’ll be sitting in the bleachers in specially-marked areas in order to keep to the 6 ft. distancing required when they aren’t in the field; substitutes not in a team’s starting line-up will also be required to sit in the marked spaces.

Of course, phase two is on the horizon and if we’re to believe what we’ve heard and read, it could come into effect as early as this Friday. That would allow for up to 50 people in an outdoor sports setting, which could see an increase in the number of players per team allowed and maybe even a spectator or two during games.

Hinchey was cautious in his optimism about that, though.

“We’ll still be worried about it but not as worried about kicking people out the door as soon as their game is over,” he said. “It’ll just make things more easier to manage. The last thing we want to do is screw things up because in the grand scheme of it all, this isn’t the most important thing in the world right now.”

But Brian Couvrette, who plays with Hinchey, is just anxious to get out there … ecstatic, even.

“When all this started, no one had any idea what was going to happen,” he said. “No one knew what was going on and even now, there are still people who don’t know fully what’s going on. But our board has done a good job in getting everything in order under what (Kandola) has allowed us to do. Hopefully, things will loosen up a bit so we can do a bit more but I think we’re just happy that it’s happening.”

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James McCarthy

After being a nomad around North America following my semi-debauched post-secondary days, I put down my roots in Yellowknife in 2006. I’ve been keeping this sports seat warm with NNSL for the better...

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