OCRA says no games until fall

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
It will be a few more months before the dugouts at the sports complex are filled with OCRA teams again.

OKEECHOBEE– The Okeechobee Citizens Recreational Association (OCRA) won’t be hosting games again until Fall at the earliest.


Normally, OCRA’s youth baseball, t-ball and softball seasons run from March until June. But with social distancing guidelines in place since mid-March, the decision was made to cancel all spring activities.


“It was hard to navigate whether we were going to be able to have a season,” said OCRA president Jessica Slovenski. “Eventually we reached a point where we realized there didn’t seem to be an end in sight to this. And we came to the determination we couldn’t give the kids a full, good season. So we decided that instead we could offer them fall ball so that when this is hopefully cleared up we can give them something to do and keep them active.”


The loss of the season is devastating for kids who were looking forward to playing this year. Especially those who were hoping to play in the All-Stars at the end of the season and were excited about having a shot at the World Series.


The loss of the spring season has also led to a logistics issue of how parents can get a refund. The OCRA says it is following social distancing guidelines and will only issue refunds once those guidelines are lifted. Some parents, understandably, aren’t happy with a vague idea of when they can expect their refund and want a more concrete answer. Some have asked if the OCRA would be able to mail their checks since picking up in person is currently discouraged, but for now the association is saying no.


“Mailing them is not really option,” said Mrs. Slovenski. “I just mailed this check back and the parent wanted it to apply to fall ball. We have sponsors and parents who have already shown interest in fall ball and they wanted their money to stay where it was. So instead of causing a lot of confusion and spending a lot on postage we decided to wait until we get the all clear to gather in groups of more than 10 we’ll start scheduling multiple days to issue refunds. Then we can get things taken care of and figure out where everyone wants to be.”


Mrs. Slovenski says OCRA had over 740 kids sign up for spring ball this year. The OCRA says that aren’t able to process refunds digitally unless the parent paid by card. Currently they are not offering those refunds digitally either, but it has been considered.


On May 13 Governor Ron DeSantis welcomed back professional sports in the state of Florida with the caveat that no fans are in attendance. Most of the state is currently under phase one of his reopening plan, with phase two just around the corner. In phase two, groups of 50 would be permitted.

“It’s a lot to take in and organize,” said Mrs. Slovenski. “We know the refunds are going to be a mass thing. Once we can gather in groups of more than ten we’re happy to hurry up and start scheduling days. I’ve already ordered the extra checks to cover the fact that I could issue up to 700 refunds.”

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