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Q&A: North Carroll Soccer Club leaders on decision to cancel spring season, what’s to come this summer

North Carroll Soccer Club organization officials recently made a move that many of its fellow rec leagues have dealt with since the coronavirus pandemic altered the sports landscape.

NCSC’s in-house spring season was canceled for 2020 because of COVID-19, but the organization is trying to keep its players and soccer community connected to the game. Plans for shared videos on social media pages are in the works, according to the league’s website.

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The Times caught up with president Matt Grastorf and North Carroll Rec Council vice president John Woodley to get their thoughts on how the corornavirus forced the NCSC’s decision, and what lies ahead for the future.

Q: What went into making the tough decision to cancel the spring soccer season?

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Grastorf: This was a tough decision and at the time it was made our decision there was little to no guidance available for our program. Our NCSC program council members met in twice mid-March to determine best course of action. Ultimately it decided that it would be very unlikely to have a complete season, and that many of our families may be facing financial hardships, so we opted to cancel the spring season and provide refunds to all our program registrants for the in-house program.

Woodley: On the travel soccer side of the house the considerations were a little different because the program only had a small number of teams competing this spring. Each competing travel team had to wait on the league(s) they participated in, [Central Maryland Soccer Association] and/or [Eastern Development Program], to make cancellation decisions. Some of our travel teams also had to await tournament cancellation decisions. At the time of this correspondence, all Mid-Atlantic tournaments were cancelled or postponed until further notice. The CMSA Spring 2020 season was cancelled in April. The EDP Spring 2020 season still has not been cancelled.

Q: Are there any alternatives the program might go for this summer to help keep kids active?

Grastorf: Currently there are no summer plans as the in-house program offers sessions in the fall and spring and only hold field permits during that time frame. The program was all ready to go in spring 2020 and if the opportunity does present itself, in the time frame we have field permits, we will try to have some scrimmage weekends to get the kids back on the pitch. Unfortunately, this may be a slim possibility, but we are holding on to hope.

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Woodley: For NCSC travel teams, like Matt stated we have hope that we will be able to get the players back on the pitch soon. In typical years, NCSC travel teams begin preparation right after July 4 for the preseason summer tournament run through Labor Day, and then proceed to league play. With COVID-19, we must follow even more closely the guidance of [Carroll County Rec and Parks]. Right now, CCRP has suspended all formal practice and game activity for all youth sports in Carroll County until June 30. We hold hope they will not have to extend the suspension of activities, but we will follow CCRP’s guidance for the safety of the families, players, and volunteers we serve.

Q: How has the pandemic affected North Carroll Rec so far and what sort of feedback have you received since the cancellation?

Woodley: The pandemic has negatively impacted [North Carroll Rec Council] programs in many ways. Most important, is that the NCRC cannot provide its traditional opportunities to the youth of our community and county while they have fun learning competition and sportsmanship. The feedback has mostly been positive, but all are very disappointed on so many levels with the civil limits and health concerns that do not allow us to carry out a normal existence. The real challenges for all recreation councils is how to provide options for those high school aged participants primed to compete in college showcase competitions. We all send positive prayers to these players because they a getting the double-whammy since the spring high school seasons were cancelled. Hopefully, we can get those players back on the field soon. The other challenge is making certain we have a detailed understanding of how each program has been financially impacted and provide the necessary support to ensure the outlook for all are positive. Luckily, the NCRC has sound leadership and a strong financial foundation.

Q: How do you think it will affect the program moving forward?

Grastorf: Honestly, we don’t know. Currently we are making plans for the fall season. This includes plans for a normal season, a shortened season (if things are closed down again), or no season at all. We are hopeful things will return to normal soon and that Local, State, and Federal governments will provide some guidelines to help organizations such as ours form policy and procedures to ensure that volunteers, players and their families, can participate.

Woodley: The NCRC plans for the best and prepares for the worst, COVID-19 or no COVID-19. At this point, all of our NCRC programs will prepare for future activities until we receive more guidance from the CCRP. Currently we are all living a conundrum due to COVID-19: personally, organizationally, and governmentally. The conundrum to be fixed is we all have to find the proper balance, comfort, and confidence to reintegrate into the new normal of our lives and hopefully get to a point where we maximize personal life expression and participation and minimize the death count. I believe our families and volunteers are considerate and strong enough to get the ball rolling, if given the opportunity. We patiently await the opportunity.

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