Amid a health crisis, summer travel ball seasons have mostly continued as planned. It's a welcome sense of normalcy for some organizations, such as eXposure Baseball.
Brandon Turner's baseball academy, which has close to 300 players spread across 8-and-under to 18-and-under age groups has had a successful summer in which safety has been a major priority due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We have been proactive in regards to handling COVID-19," Turner said. "If somebody feels a little sick or a player or parent got tested, we do not let them come back until we figure out if their test is positive or negative. We only had one or two of those instances and never had a test come back positive. For the circumstances, travel baseball went really well, and I haven't heard of any bad instances where there was a huge spread."
As one of the premier baseball summer programs in the Southeast, eXposure played the majority of its games in Atlanta, where parents and players could easily drive back and forth. When they played in tournaments in Florida, which has been a hotbed for COVID-19, parents took initiative in reserving Airbnb accomodations for players to limit exposure.
Turner said tournament sites did a good job keeping play as safe as possible, which included temperature readings, sanitizing of dugouts and encouraging fans to bring their own chairs to sit in instead of the bleachers. He knows his teams were fortunate, considering that Major League Baseball's Miami Marlins had 15 players — half of the team's active roster — test positive for the coronavirus over the past few days.
"Everybody has to be cautious now. Before the season, we put it out there to the parents that if they didn't feel comfortable letting their kids play, we totally understood," Turner said. "If you have a fever, you are going to be held out until they know for sure if you have coronavirus or not. The problem is tracking how many people have it because a lot of people are asymptomatic. There is still so much unknown about this virus, but we all pray for the numbers to go down so lives can get back to normal."
Camp Jordan has been extremely active this summer with softball and baseball tournaments, soccer camps and football showcases This past weekend, the East Ridge sporting complex hosted more than 100 football players from all over the state and north Georgia taking part in the inaugural Rising Stars Combine.
AAU basketball tournaments have still been in full swing with teams traveling to different states. Fans in attendance have been asked to wear masks inside arenas while seats are wiped down after each game before more fans can come in.
While a state of emergency has been in effect, the governor provided high school sports good news on Tuesday.
Gov. Bill Lee announced during a news conference that all contact sports can resume, including high school football and girls' soccer, provided they follow requirements set by the TSSAA.
Financial worries during COVID-19 have certainly played a role in teams doing everything they can to keep seasons going as safely as possible. A season off for some clubs or programs would cost jobs and for some the possibility of ever continuing.
High school cross country and golf seasons are ready to go for the fall with football and soccer not far behind.
Signal Mountain won the state championship in both boys' and girls' cross country last season as well as in boys' golf. Eagles cross country coach Dustin Carpenter has had his team training with weights outside this summer while they wear masks when not running. Carpenter, who has led the program to seven state championships in the past seven years, is holding team camp this week for his team, which will have its first meet on Labor Day weekend.
While 2020 has presented a lot of uncertainty, sports continue to look for ways to go on and bring a sense of relief through tough times.
Gov. Lee exempts contact sports from executive order, allowing prep football and girls' soccer seasons to start on time