The White County Recreation Department opened registration for fall sports this week, with a hopeful eye toward the future.
While the return of sporting events is still a big question mark due to the coronavirus pandemic, WCRD director Joe Gailey said the department is making plans for the normal fall youth sports lineup of football, cheerleading, soccer and baseball.
“We are hopeful that we'll be able to have a fall season, and we have to open registration to prepare for it,” Gailey said. “It will be handled like we did with spring sports. If the season is cancelled, then we'll refund all of the registration fees.”
Gailey said he doesn't know what to expect with the registration numbers.
“I could see a dip in numbers if things continue but we're like everyone else hoping and praying things get better, and the kids will be able to play in the fall.”
Registration for all sports started Monday will run through June 19,” Gailey said. “It's all online right now. Just follow the links on the county website, fill out the paperwork, and pay online. There are no on-site registration at the moment, since all county offices are closed to the public. If that changes at some point, we'll let everyone know.”
Gailey also said the recreational facilities including all fields, are still closed to the public, but he hopes that could change at some point in the coming weeks and months.
“I know there are a lot people who would like to use the fields, and we'll let everyone know when that becomes available again,” Gailey said.
Youth soccer in White County has been played through the Habersham Rapids program for the past several years, but the department is offering a fall recreational league this year. The league will be an in-house league with schedule comprising only of in-country teams.
“It's going to be new for us this year,” Gailey said. “We saw a dip in the number of kids in the soccer program last year, so we asked the Habersham Rapids if we could do a recreational league. It will be a purely recreational league where we'll be in house. We're hoping to start practicing in mid-to-late August. I've found that the soccer teams only need a couple of weeks to practice before they are ready to play. Hopefully, we'll be able to start games by the end of August.”
The soccer program will offer four age groups – Little Kickers (3-4-years old), 6U, 8U, and 10U.
White County will be part of the Mountain Football League again this fall, fielding teams for ages 6-11. The MFL consists of programs from Chestatee, Dawson County, Fannin County, Gilmer County, Lumpkin County, Pickens County, Towns County, and Union County.
“We are a part of the MFL again, and it will continue to be an age-based league this fall,” Gailey said. “Next year, the league is moving to grade-based league. I can live with a grade-based league because all of the other counties we play are grade-based. We're excited about the football and cheer season.”
Gailey said the start dates for the upcoming season will mirror whatever plan the Georgia High School Association uses for the high school season.
“We'll follow what the GHSA does,” Gailey said. “We want to start practice July 6, with a week of conditioning, and then have a week in helmets, and then move into full pads. If those things happen, we'll play jamboree games on Aug. 15 and Aug. 22, and then have Opening Day on Aug. 29. But all of these plans depend on what the GHSA does.”
The fall baseball program will feature leagues in four age groups – Little Hitters (3-4-years old), 6U, 8U, and 10U.
“Baseball is a little different this year too,” Gailey said. “Last year, we allowed teams to register and play together, but this year we are going back to registering as individuals, with the kids going through an evaluation process and then picked by the coaches in a draft. Fall ball is going to be more important this year since we lost the whole spring season this year.”