How do you social distance and play a team sport?

Young athletes in the St. Louis region are starting to find out.

Megan Lynch
June 29, 2020 - 8:45 am

ST. LOUIS, MO (KMOX) - As the pros make plans to return to work-outs, so do thousands of area children.

This week KMOX News takes an in-depth look at getting kids Back in the Game during a pandemic.

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"We have some parents, I think, that we're probably pushing their kids out the door for their first training session.  Then we have other parents that are very apprehensive.  And of course, you have folks that are in the middle."  Tony Schmitt, Coaching Director for Kolping Soccer Club in South St. Louis County tells KMOX, before they resumed practices, he worked with coaches on all the requirements for running socially-distanced drills.

Each player has to have their own water bottle, they can't touch the ball with their hands, and for the last two weeks, athletes have had to keep their distance from one another.  That's meant no games.  "The part they're missing now is as my son calls it, the fun stuff," says Schmitt, including small-sided games and competition between players.  

Related: Most outdoor youth sports allowed to resume in St. Louis County 

Yet some of that is returning this week, under relaxed guidelines from the St. Louis County Executive.   Travel by teams will still be restricted.  

"You just don't know who might be contagious, " says Paul Jenkins, Coordinator for the Young Athlete Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital and Rehabilitation Supervisor for Children's Specialty Care Center.  Jenkins was part of a special task force looking at the return of youth sports, "if we're spending too much time in close contact and that increases the chances of the players getting sick and potentially bringing that home to their families, or affecting coaches who may affect many players."

Some kids may have spent more time playing video games than practicing their sport during the pandemic.  How that will impact their return, in our next report.

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