I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, and if I have, well, buckle in, because I'm going to mention it again. I feel AWFUL for student-athletes since this pandemic started. I watched my cousin, who lives and breathes softball, miss her junior season in college in 2019 because of an injury, psyched to come back strong for her senior year season -- only go have it cancelled by COVID. Her and TONS of other students across the country missed out on their senior (whether high school or college) seasons of sports they love.

Equally as awful, possibly more, is the fact that this whole pandemic has really made it tough for kids to just be kids. Relegated to wonky school schedules, little-to-no afterschool programs or sports -- flat out, it's a crappy way to grow up. Last season, Little Leagues across the country cancelled their seasons, robbing kids of some of the most fun they have every spring/summer.

Little League was my jam as a kid. Sure, I played basketball in the winter, but MY SPORT was always baseball. I LIVED for Little League season to come every single year. I made great friends through it, had great memories, and thinking back on it now as an adult, I learned SO many lessons playing Little League that extend way beyond just the fundamentals of baseball.

I learned the definition of teamwork. What defeat and heartbreak feels like. How to carry yourself in said defeat and heartbreak. To never give up because there's always a chance for that late-inning, two-out rally. And when my season was over, I'd sit back and watch kids my age get national coverage playing the game they love in the Little League World Series every single season. I still do as an adult for no other reason than it's sports in its purest form. Those kids aren't playing for endorsement deals or contract offers or money -- it's purely the love of the game.

And thankfully, after having to cancel last season because of the pandemic, the pure love of the game is being re-ignited. As of this past Sunday, January 31, Portland Little League announced that registration is OPEN for the upcoming spring season of ball!

Now, according to Channel 8 WMTW, League organizers are expecting as normal of a season as possible (bold strategy, but let's hope so), but they're also recognizing that some changes will need to be made, too. The changes are starting right off the bat with tryouts/player evaluations. Normally done at all age groups for baseball, t-ball, and softball, this year only those kids entering the Majors level will be evaluated. And those evaluations will last a lot longer than usual, which will allow for fewer kids to be gathered together in one spot than normal. And since evals happen indoors, masks will be required.

What do you think? Is bringing Little League back for the spring season, even though the pandemic is still active, a good idea? Will you let your kid(s) participate in the upcoming season? If your answer is yes, you can sign them up on the Portland Little League website.

PLAY BALL, KIDDOS!

5 New England Sports Superstars of All Time