May 13, 2021

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South Plainfield Rec to Welcome Youth Safely Back onto the Courts and Mats

4 min read

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy gave the green light for indoor sports to resume in the Garden State, effective Jan. 2, and, on a local level, the South Plainfield Department of Recreation is gearing up for a winter season that includes the return of both youth basketball and wrestling.

“We are excited to be able to get kids back into the gym and playing sports and, while the season may not look like it has in the past, we are happy to resume activities and move forward under the current guidelines set forth by the state.” said Elizabeth Yarus, director of recreation for the borough.

The Rec Department, said Yarus, will be following all guidelines set forth by the New Jersey Department of Health (https://bit.ly/2Lfecqo). Under Administrative Order #2020-25 (https://bit.ly/3hwPnlH), attendance for indoor sports is restricted to 10 individuals; if the 10-person max is exceeded, only those directly involved in the game – players, coaches, referees and support staff – are allowed to attend. As a result, no spectators will be allowed to attend any rec department practices, games, scrimmages and/or meets; only players, coaches, and/or volunteers will be permitted in the PAL.

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Masks are required for any interaction other than when engaged in physical activity and participants will be required to complete a COVID questionnaire (available online at https://bit.ly/2Jybw6w), which must be handed in at each practice/meet/game/scrimmage. Temperature checks will also be conducted at check in. Additionally, the PAL has been updated and outfitted with all hands-free features in the bathrooms. Hand sanitizer stations have been installed as have water filling stations, which will provide individuals the ability to refill their own bottles.

“We are working hard to meet health and safety standards set forth by the state while continuing our mission to provide youth sports through these unprecedented times,” said Yarus. 

The Rec Department’s coed basketball program, open to borough residents ages 7-13 (as of 10/1/2020) is slated to begin mid-January. All basketball practices and games will be held at the PAL and players will be required to wear masks outside of play when social distancing cannot be maintained. Additionally, seating will be spaced so when not in active play, participants can hydrate and properly social distance. 

According to Yarus, the hope is to have typical league play, with practice once a week and round-robin style games each weekend. Should the minimum enrollment to form teams not be met, the department plans to still offer a clinic setting. Individual leagues (comprised of boys and girls in a specific age group) will meet two to three times a week to practice and scrimmage.  

To make a league work, at the very minimum, three teams with a minimum of eight kids per team, per age group, are needed. “Ideally, we would have four teams with a minimum of eight kids per team. However, we are ready to roll with either set-up,” said Yarus, noting that in order for the department to plan accordingly, any interested participants should register as soon as possible. “Once we know how many interested participants there are we can determine how best to move forward,” she said. 

Youth Wrestling, open to borough youth in kindergarten through sixth grade, will run from Jan. 11 through Feb. 28 with practices taking place Monday and Thursday nights; kindergarten through third grade will practice from 6 to 7 p.m. with third through sixth grade practicing from 7 to 8:30 p.m. 

All wrestlers must wear a mask except when engaged in physical activity while all coaches, volunteers, and referees are required to wear masks at all times. The turf field gate and garage door will be utilized for entrance/exit and all participants must wait outside to be checked in by coaching staff. 

“For wrestling, we are focusing on small groups and sub-groups so participants will only have direct contact with a smaller number of patrons vs. intermingling with the entire group,” said Yarus, adding, “All practice and game times will be spread out to allow for entrance/exit of previous group and sanitation in between.” 

To register, or for more information, on the upcoming basketball and wrestling programs being offered by the South Plainfield Department of Recreation, visit https://bit.ly/3816Say.

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