ROCHELLE — The coronavirus pandemic has taken a battering ram to athletic programs around the country, and Rochelle Little League is the latest organization to suffer an unfortunate fate.
League administrators announced Wednesday that the 2020 season will be canceled. The move comes after Little League operations had been suspended for nearly two months in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Little League President and CEO Steve Keener canceled all regional and World Series tournaments during a video briefing last month.
“We thought there wouldn’t be enough time for a full season,” Rochelle Little League President Ryan Andrist said. “There would’ve been too many issues for us to consider, such as only having up to 50 people at the field and how we would deal with concessions and maintaining social distancing. We would’ve loved to have the kids play ball, but there are too many cons for us.”
Rochelle Little League had been hoping to start its season in early June, with players participating in a full regular season. Under Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, outdoor recreational activities aren’t permitted until Phase 4, which cannot be reached until June 26 at the earliest. Additionally, gatherings up to 50 people aren’t permitted until Phase 4 under Pritzker’s plan.
“We were hoping that we could go straight into playing ball on June 1 and get a full season in,” Andrist said. “We would’ve seen where that took us… We wanted to get as many games in as possible and play as long as we could before the kids started their next sports.”
Any families who registered their children to play this season can contact league administrators and either request a full refund or donate their fees to the league. Families can contact league administrators through email or telephone, and contact information is available online at http://www.rochellelittleleague.com or the Rochelle Little League Facebook page.
“I was hoping for the last month that we could have our season because I wanted our kids to go out there and play,” Andrist said. “I don’t want to put our kids and their families at risk... The risks weren’t worth us having our season, despite how much I wanted us to have it.”