Johnson County Park and Recreation District Assistant Superintendent of Recreation Shannon Sonnier, who oversees the agency’s sports facilities, recently took time to update plans for summer and fall sports, including recent facility improvements and safety measures.
How has COVID-19 affected sports at JCPRD?
For the past few months, the Sports and Facilities Department at JCPRD has worked diligently to prepare for the return of sports activities. We recognize how important sports are to the families that we are lucky enough to have play with us and wanted to make sure that we did it with their safety in mind. In the past few weeks we’ve hosted baseball and fastpitch tournaments at our Mid-America and Mid-America West sports complexes. If you happened to come in or stop by, it may have looked different than previous experiences. Our bleachers have been roped off to encourage spectators to spread out in their own chairs throughout the complex. Signage encouraging social distancing and hand washing is spread around every field. Teams coming in and leaving the field have been asked to pick up the trash in their dugouts and help our sanitation efforts by wiping down the player benches with disinfectant. Games have been scheduled in a manner to minimize overlap between teams coming in and teams leaving. Our restrooms are being closed often to allow our maintenance staff time to sanitize them on a more frequent basis. And while we do encourage and expect good sportsmanship, a tip of the cap works just as well as a high five. We hope between our staff and the public each doing their part, we can all keep each other safe.
How long do you think these measures will be in place?
Organizationally, we look at this issue daily and remain committed to adjusting as needed. We connect with other local sports organizations to ensure that we are all operating on the same page as much as possible. We also connect with the Kansas Recreation and Park Association to make sure that we know what is going on in the region. Finally, we lean upon local health departments for guidance and assistance in our decision making. I believe some of these adjustments, such as signage encouraging hand washing and physical distancing, will be in place for a long time. Without knowing what the future holds, we will continue to monitor and be prepared to pivot our practices as needed to provide the safest possible experience.
What else would you like to share?
Mid-America and Mid-America West both received a much-needed upgrade this past offseason. All the fields at both complexes now have new 40-foot netted backstops and black eight-foot chain link fencing. Expanded bullpens, dugouts, and shaded bleacher structures were also added. All of these improvements were welcome additions to these heavily used and loved complexes. Even better, the progress will continue in the future. JCPRD is making a significant investment in these complexes, recognizing the tremendous amount of use and their value as an economic driver for the region. This winter will see all new LED lighting at Mid-America Sports Complex, four fields converted to artificial turf, and an all new destination concession stand. We hope that we see you out at the ballpark.
What’s going on at Heritage Soccer Park?
We will be resuming league play at Heritage Soccer Park in the fall. This-18 field complex is a great venue for practices, leagues, and tournaments. For those who have not been at the facility in a long time, we encourage you to come see us. We’ve used this time where we’ve had lighter play to fill in worn spots, and the fields look as good as ever. We are in the beginning stages of a new partnership with Puma FC to help provide more value, fun, and expertise to our league participants. The first step in that process is our Recreational Soccer Camp that we are holding this summer beginning July 7. This will be a low-cost three-week clinic for all of those soccer kids that are itching to go. I encourage parents of kids of all ages to sign up. The deadline for our fall soccer leagues participants in grades 1-8 is July 24,and for our Pee Wee (ages 4-6) participants, the deadline is Aug. 7. Games begin Sept. 12. This is a perfect opportunity for those who want to play soccer with their friends or just for fun. To find out more go to https://www.jcprd.com/1230/Youth-Soccer—Heritage-Soccer-Park
Can you mention some specific upcoming sports programs?
Soccer is just one facet of the multitude of sports offerings that we have at Johnson County Park and Recreation District. At our Heritage Park, Mid-America, and Mid-America West Sports complexes, we are getting ready to start summer slowpitch on June 24. The men’s session will run through Aug. 12. The fall slowpitch season is set to start Sept. 8 and run through Oct. 25. Registration for the fall season will open July 13. https://jcprd.com/385/Adult-Slowpitch
In addition, at Mid-America West our fall youth and high school fastpitch league team registration will open in early July. Leagues will begin Aug. 23 and conclude Sept. 27. We offer play for 5U through 18U teams. https://www.jcprd.com/448/Fastpitch—Mid-America-West