Return to Play: Club and travel teams pushing through a disappointing summer
Summer is an important season for Long Island's youth sports travel teams. But with COVID-19 fears and restrictions, many of those teams are being forced to stay home and change some of the promises they made to parents and players.
The 12-and-under Oil City Bandits baseball team was primed to have a big summer. But instead it's been a rough one because the travel team is not traveling at all. The pandemic wiped out those plans, including a trip to Cooperstown.
"You're up there with 60 other teams. The kids trade pins and make friendships they'll have for the rest of their lives," says Ryan Gorecki, Bandits co-owner.
Quarantines and rising COVID-19 numbers are making this a disappointing summer for many of the Island's youth travel teams. For Matt Costa, the stakes are higher.
He plays for SUSA, Long Island's largest club soccer program. Its older teams usually spend the summer traveling, winning and playing in front of college coaches offering scholarships. This summer, they've only been practicing for two weeks.
"Like our 2002 age group, they are going to college and we can't prepare them," says club director Moussa Sy. "And our juniors we cannot showcase. Panic is setting in."
But its not just the players -- the worries are just as prevalent in the parents. Sy says trying to calm their fears has been a challenge as well.
"We have parents who have had kids with us for seven to eight years," he says. "So this is really crunch time for them and they are missing out on those opportunities."