This season was supposed to be the beginning of a new chapter for Durham Region Challenger Baseball but the coronavirus pandemic has not only delayed the opening of the new accessible diamond in Whitby, it’s also cancelled the season.
Elliot Smith and his teammates can only imagine what this season would have been like at their new home.
“I miss being with my teammates, I love playing baseball and that’s the summer sport I like to do to make sure I’m keeping active,” said Smith, a Challenger Baseball player.
“Hopefully in 2021 when things get better, hopefully we can play,” said Mateo Livoti.
The cancellation of Challenger Baseball, which is designed for children and adults with disabilities, this season has left them all pining for a chance to play. For their parents, it’s heartbreaking not to see them on the diamond.
“Disappointing that the kids aren’t able to get out here and play because it’s so beautiful, we take drives over here just to look at it,” said Sandy Livoti, Mateo’s mom.
This time last year, construction was in full swing on the new accessible field.
Recently, Challenger Baseball’s Tracy Roulston had to make the difficult decision to axe the season.
“The parents and athletes I think they pretty well understand it’s a safe choice that’s been made for them. A few of them may have underlying issues and I mean it’s just hard to get out there and be expected to sanitize everything every half-hour,” said Roulston.
“We’re a touchy-feely kind of league, we love high-fives, we love hugs and we just can’t do that right now. So it’s just safe to stay off the diamond for now.”
But not all is lost. While they can’t be on the diamond, coaches are engaging with players online.
“We do some throwing, some batting, some fielding, a cool-down and then we have a little bit of social time mixed in there for fun,” said coach Karen Slade.
For Smith, though it’s going to be a long few months, he’s eagerly anticipating the day he’ll be back on the field.
“Playing on this diamond means that the sky is the limit,” he said.
The official grand opening for the Durham Challenger Baseball field has been delayed until spring 2021.
While the situation isn’t ideal, Roulston says she’s confident when that day comes, it’ll become the beginning of an exciting new chapter.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.