Playing it safe: Fall sports start at Dartmouth Girls Athletic League

Sep 18, 2020

The Dartmouth Girls Athletic League’s players are getting back into the swing of things as they start a fall season that looks quite different from past years. 

Softball and field hockey games officially began Sept. 13, with practices starting only a couple weeks before. 

While that might seem like a tight window to get back into shape, League President John Bernat said his teams were more than ready to compete against other teams in southeastern Massachusetts. 

“We’ve got a great group of girls — they won both their games that first Sunday,” he said. “Lots of times they’re worn out with sports, but I think they were glad to get out and hit some balls again.”

After being postponed all summer, DGAL returned to practice outside Quinn School  — a scene that nobody at the organization had any certainty of even a few weeks ago. 

Bernat said this year was an “extreme struggle” for the DGAL since they not only had to wait for state guidelines, but also had to get permission from the school department to use its usual practice and game day fields.   

“Finally, we got the okay in August,” he said. “As soon as we got the opportunity, we were out here.”

Players are simply excited to be back, even in a socially distanced capacity.

“I wasn’t expecting to play this year,” catcher Chloe Sparling, 12, said. “I’m definitely happy to be back.” 

She added that she wasn’t too worried about potentially getting Covid, noting that she and other teammates do a good job keeping their space and wearing masks. 

Teammate Emma Silva, 12, agreed.

“It’s so great to see my friends again,” she said.

Softball Commissioner Lisa Garcia said she felt the league’s return is a great outlet for girls to take their focus away from the pandemic for a couple of hours. 

“It’s good to give them some sort of normalcy back,” Garcia added. “You might as well take advantage of it now, because you never know what the future holds.” 

At practices, coaches not only have to teach kids the basics of the game, but also have to keep track of players to make sure they are following all of the new safety protocols such as keeping their mask on when running bases at softball games. 

“It’s a bit of a challenge, but the girls are definitely getting used to it,” U-10 coach Ryan Rymszewicz said.

Rules at practice are a bit relaxed since players are from the same area. During games, he said, social distancing rules are strictly enforced. 

“The last thing we need is a phone call telling us we were not following procedure,” Bernat laughed.