"Today I welcome you with a smile … and Purell!". These are the words that coach Jean-Philippe Roy launched to the youngsters who set foot on the field of Canac Stadium, to emphasize that baseball is actually back in a new era.
Roy is the director of the Canonniers de Québec baseball sports studies program, which brings together 250 youths from five schools. These young people, divided into small groups over two days, were at least as brilliant as the sun, which gave the warm rays grace for the great return.
There was a lot to shine over, since they were the first in the province to return to baseball, after several weeks of frustration in prison.
"It's like the punishment is over," said Raphaël Boutin, 16, with confidence.
“Our enjoyment of playing was interrupted overnight without warning. It was a big shock. We really realize what we have when we take it away. We know we don't have a normal baseball summer, but we're lucky enough to jump on the field, he added.
Rules are complied with
It was clear that the first young people who entered the synthetic surface seemed to be looking for their bearings. The coaches reminded them of the rules of the game with "two meters, two meters!", Which did not fail to cause any joyful discomfort.
"Do you feel the discomfort of young people who no longer know where to hang out?", Entertained himself by questioning Dominik Walsh, assistant coach who also wears the hat of Quebec Diamonds' manager, at LBJEQ.
"We kept in touch with our youngsters throughout the confinement, but Zoom workouts, you have no return. Today, the whole difference is," he said.
Meanwhile, friend Jean-Philippe Roy, the disinfectant grafted by hand like a doggie in a child's toy, made sure that everything was to Madame Blancheville's delight.
Even better, after short use, each ball was cleaned by an electrostatic disinfector. Like what baseball can be sparkling clean, other than the Houston Astros, at least …
"This machine and all hygiene rules are our new reality," Roy said aptly without being offended by these restrictions.
"As a coach, the two meters and all the measurements, you make sure to repeat them. As a player you have to make sure you think about it. Our role is to lead as an example. Everyone in team sports in Quebec looks at us. You have to do it right. "
The plan is ongoing
So far, the first workouts have been very simple. Some rolling and balloons to be caught by a ball throw. Muscles to loosen and a few relays.
The stimulus plan is currently in the second round in September. During the next round, for a date that remains to be determined, simulations of limited contact games will be authorized.
The precision games will be part of the fourth round, while the regional regular season will start in the fifth round. Travel between the regions is planned for the sixth round.
"Right now, we're just taking advantage of a great opportunity to train more than usual, just to have more fun when the matches start. As coaches, it forces us to be creative," Roy said.