County rec sports ready for a restart
By Samantha Lyles
After a long, boring summer with little to do in the way of competitive sports, Darlington County’s kids finally have something to look forward to as rec league sports will soon resume … kind of.
“We will have sports, but it will be adjusted for what we can do now. We can’t do tackle football, so we are going to do seven-on-seven flag football,” says Lee Andrews, director of Darlington County Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
Flag football will be open to boys and girls age 7 to 12 at a cost of $30. Each participant will receive a neck gaiter and a T-shirt. The registration deadline is Sept. 4. Andrews says that if middle school or JV football is canceled this fall, the county will try to organize flag football for those age groups as well.
Darlington Area Recreation is now offering tennis lessons as well. For those looking to improve their court skills or learn the game for the first time, these affordable lessons might be just the ticket. For $20 each week, students will receive a 45-minute lesson from Avery Williamson, who played tennis for Darlington High School and Francis Marion University.
With a little luck and adequate interest from kids and parents, other sports could be revived soon as well, albeit with new safety restrictions in place.
“We are going to try to do volleyball in Hartsville, as well as over here in Darlington if we can get enough interest. We also want to try to do fall softball, but it would be a countywide thing. We are not traveling outside of Darlington County, so all these games would take place within the county’s borders,” says Andrews.
As for parents, families and friends who want to come watch their young athletes in action, Andrews says they will be welcome to attend games, as long as they take precautions to keep everyone safe.
“We’re not necessarily going to limit spectators, but we are following the governor’s orders,” Andrews says, noting that spectators will be asked to wear face coverings at games. Temperature checks will also be conducted, and anyone who feels feverish or suspects they might be ill is asked to stay home.
When deciding which sports to offer as services begin to start back up, Andrews and his staff consulted state recreation association recommendations.
“They’ve been doing a lot of Zoom meetings to talk about these things, and pretty much everybody in the area is doing the same sports,” Andrews says. “This is football season, so naturally football was thought about, but with the amount of contact involved it was just not a good idea.”
Offering flag football instead will cut down on risky contact between non-masked players, and will also provide some new challenges for rec football vets.
“Some of the bigger kids who usually have to block all the time will now have the chance to score some touchdowns,” Andrews says. “We just want them to get out, get active, and have some fun. They haven’t been able to do that in a while, and that’s exactly what aiming to do.”
To inquire about these programs or register, visit any Darlington County Parks and Recreation office or call 843-398-4030 to learn more.