DE Turf returns to action: Sports complex set to host summer tourneys

Athletes arrive for a past tournament at DE Turf. Delaware State News file photo

FREDERICA — Sports resumed at the DE Turf Sports Complex the week of June 8.

In a few weeks, the complex will host its first tournament of the summer.

Slowly but surely, DE Turf has been getting back to normal after a near three-month hiatus due to the statewide shutdown in order to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive director Angie Eliason said DE Turf is booked for the rest of the summer.

“We’ve been working very closely with the governor’s office and the Department of Health and Safety with their guidelines for youth sports,” Ms. Eliason said. “So far, so good. We haven’t had any problems. Everyone is just excited to be able to play again.”

Ms. Eliason’s first day as executive director was May 1 — right in the middle of the pandemic.

She and the DE Turf team were able to put together a plan to allow the facility off Del. 1 in Frederica to resume activities one week into Phase 1 of Delaware’s reopening.

“It was stressful to get all the permissions and to get all our health and safety plans in order,” Ms. Eliason said. “But I was up to the challenge. It’s all worth it when you see the kids playing, having fun.”

Youth sports tournaments were given the go-ahead by Gov. John Carney as of June 20. Any tournament must have the organizers receive approval of their plan from the Division of Public Health.

Tournament-specific plans must include a method to collect contact information for all players, staff, coaches, officials and spectators, as well as team rosters and game schedules, in order to track the spread of COVID-19 in the event of an outbreak.

DE Turf’s first event will be a lacrosse tournament during the second week of July.

It has been running small group training for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse every Tuesday and Thursday from 6-7 p.m. since June 9. The Coastal Atlantic Futbol Club has also been practicing Mondays and Wednesdays.

Polytech’s Mackenzie Estrada works her way around the goal before scoring against Newark last year at DE Turf. Delaware State News file photo

In the COVID-19 age, some of the sports look a little different with rules designed to help limit the spread of germs.

The guidelines across all sports at DE Turf include no sharing equipment or personal items between players. Any equipment that has to be shared, like a game ball, is thoroughly sanitized. There is also no community water cooler.

Referees, umpires and soccer goalies, anyone who handles the ball, are required to wear gloves.

Social distancing is enforced on the sidelines and in the stands. Spectators are permitted but are required to wear masks.

For soccer, there are no throw-ins when the ball goes out of play. The ball is instead placed where it went out of bounds for a free kick. Players and coaches are not allowed to pick up the ball to place it for a free kick — rather they should use their feet or legs to move the ball.

No defensive walls are permitted during free kicks either, while no player other than the goalie is permitted to be inside the 6-yard box.

For lacrosse, no body checking is allowed. Another temporary rule is no offensive player may enter the opponent’s crease or goal circle at any time.

Field hockey has specific rules for penalty corners. When one occurs, defenders cannot cluster together in the goal before the ball is inserted from the corner. The defense is allowed a maximum of three defenders plus a goalie while the offense is allowed a maximum of five attackers plus the inserter.

The umpire is the only one allowed to handle the ball. This includes when the ball goes out of play or when a goal is scored and the ball needs to be returned to midfield for the restart.

Ms. Eliason said she’s been pleased with how understanding the community has been with the new guidelines in place.

“All the feedback has been very positive,” Ms. Eliason said. “Everyone is more than happy to follow directions.”