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Schuylkill Teeners to start play

The wait is almost over.

After an extended delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Schuylkill Teener League will begin its season today with a healthy dose of Junior and Senior games.

It’s more than just a return to baseball - it’s also a chance to regain some normalcy.

“I’m just really excited to be back,” said Tim Goida, coach of the Lansford Junior and Senior teams. “I’ve been around a lot of these guys for a few years; with a lot of them, doing travel ball in the fall, and they’re pretty successful there. It really is just a great group that loves to play baseball, and I’m glad they can finally get out and do it.”

Lansford’s Krajcirik’s lost to Hegins 2-1 in a best-of-three championship series in the Schuylkill County Teener League Junior Division a year ago.

Much of the talent remains for Goida, providing even more optimism heading into the start of the season.

“It means a lot to us,” said Goida. “I believe we only lost one or two kids that originally signed up because of other sports and that, so these are kids that want to be here.

“A group of us have been working on the fields that whole time, and now just seeing kids be able to get out on them, is just extremely gratifying.”

The delayed start has simply been a part of the new normal for Goida and others in the league, which also includes Junior division teams Hope’s Collision and West Penn. Valley Athletic competes in the Senior division.

“It was a lot of going back-and-forth, because usually we’re starting practice at the end of March, beginning of April, around the high school season,” said Goida. “The juniors for teener league usually start earlier than the seniors because of the JV schedules and those types of things.

“But then COVID set in, and we were just kind of playing it by ear, seeing what the guidelines were going to be and stuff like that.”

Certain locations will come with more restrictions than others throughout the season.

“We have games at Stump Stadium in Pine Grove and Pottsville High School and every kid has to have their temperature taken before they get on the field,” said Goida, who also noted that the entire league had to sign a COVID waiver. “They are more or less the school district’s, or PIAA rules. But what kid would not want to play at either one of those facilities?

“We are generally not going to sit in the dugout; as we’re up to bat, everyone is going to be spread out. But as far as baseball goes, this year you’re a whole lot more than a baseball coach. We have to carry sanitizer; we have to carry masks; we have to carry wipes. But it’s definitely challenging, that’s for sure.”

Once Carbon County entered the green phase in Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening plan, it allowed for more flexibility. When Schuylkill County went green on June 19, it paved the way for the start of the season.

“I believe if it would have went into August, I don’t think we would have had anything,” Goida said. “With football starting, and I know basketball likes to get going, and as soon as high schools get the green light, they’re going to go. And if they want to go play basketball, they’re going to do that; if they want to play football, they’re going to do that. And that’s totally fine. But then it’s hard to go by any kind of schedule because you never how many kids you’re going to have on certain days.

“But I’m just glad to get them outside, get them doing something. I know the future is bright for us at Panther Valley with the younger group that’s coming up, and there’s a good group there. It’s going to be nice and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens. I’m just excited to see them get back out on the field.”

Play ball.

“I think it’s amazing that we’re having a season this summer,” said Lansford’s Trey McAndrew. “I’m excited to play. It’s been a while since we’ve been able to, but I’m anxious to start. When I first heard about it, I was ecstatic about it and just so happy to see people getting out here and enjoying the sport and watching us.

“And it’s a great opportunity for the players. I think it’s a great opportunity to get better.”

Lansford coach Tim Goida watches his son Hayden pitch during practice. Lansford, and the rest of the Schuylkill Teener League, will begin play this weekend. For a video, visit www.tnonline.com. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS