Youth Sports League Returns to Sanibel

by SC Reporter Reese Holiday

Youth sports league returns with soccer. SC photo by Chuck Larsen

After a lengthy absence, the youth sports league called Sanibel Sports, Inc. will return to the island after its reinstatement proposal was unanimously approved Nov. 3 by the City Council.

Canceled back in the spring, the league has been inactive since the start of the pandemic. League President Tim Drobnyk said they offered flag football, baseball and lacrosse, but their main focus for this fall is soccer. Instead of jumping into a full season, however, the league meets on Friday’s to first see how practices go.

“We’re out there for a couple of hours every Friday,” Drobnyk said. “It’s a good test run, if you will, to make sure that we can manage everything.”

Drobnyk said 88 kids have signed up for the league, as of Wednesday morning. At practice, they separate into the appropriate age groups to run drills and scrimmages. To stay safe, all participants will have to sign a COVID-19 waiver and practice social distancing off the field. The league will not mandate mask wearing, especially during practice.

“Our role as an organization is to teach the kids various skills for sports,” Drobnyk said. “We are not mandating anything that the city doesn’t already have in place.”

Drobnyk added that the league is leaving it up to the parents to discern how their child’s safety is managed. In the Nov. 3 council meeting, Councilman Richard Johnson said that no one is more concerned about a child’s health than that of a parent.

“I think there’s nobody more interested in the health and well-being of those children than their parents,” Johnson said.

According to Drobnyk, Sanibel was one of the only municipalities in the area without an active youth sports league. With this, demand for the league was present as parents reached out to Drobnyk wondering if it would return. He added that with everything going on, kids needed an outlet through sports.

“The kids have been having to go through all these restrictions between the shutdown in the spring and not going to school to following certain guidelines and what they have to do in school now,” Drobnyk said. “They needed an outlet.”

As of right now, Sanibel Sports will only run practices on Friday’s, and look to get a full soccer season approved after the new year. For Councilwoman Holly Smith, the league will provide kids with a sense of normalcy, something this year has lacked.

“That’s a big part of growing up,” Smith said in the Nov. 3 meeting. “If we can get some little bit of normalcy, whatever that is, I think it’s really important to do so.”

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