Wilson baseball players continue to play safely through the pandemic with Gatorball Academy

Aidan Sobocinski

As COVID-19 bulldozed its way through Wilson’s sports, including the baseball team, a call for a safe way to play baseball was made. That call was answered when Gatorball Academy offered local DC-area players a chance to safely continue to play America’s favorite pastime.

Initially founded in Gainesville, Florida, Gatorball is a youth baseball program for aspiring collegiate athletes and other young baseball players. As of last year, Gatorball has expanded to DC in an attempt to increase baseball in the area and to provide a quality team for young men and women. Although the majority of Gatorball players do attend Wilson, athletes also come from high schools in the DMV area such as Georgetown Day School (GDS), Landon, and Bethesda Chevy Chase High School( BCC).

 “Safety is the number one priority,” said 10th grade dean and Gatorball coach Henry Martinez. All coaches wear masks throughout the entirety of practices and games. Participants remain at least six feet apart as much as possible, which is doable in part due to the abundance of space between each of the nine positions on the field. 

The coaches at Gatorball are predominantly Wilson baseball coaches, with the addition of recent Wilson alumni and former Wilson baseball players. Although it’s often viewed as a club team for Wilson baseball players, Gatorball is inclusive and holds no bias against what high school their players attend. That being said, Gatorball has become a great outlet for Wilson baseball players looking to improve their baseball skills outside of the school team and especially right now with the heavy restrictions revolving around school sports. 

Though the challenge still remains prominent, no athletic team, regardless of school or club status, is able to play games in DC. To overcome the COVID-19 restrictions, Gatorball began playing league games outside of DC, in Maryland and Virginia. By doing so the club is able to work around DC’s restrictions and continue to practice and play together.

Gatorball is in the Northern Virginia Travel Baseball League (NVTBL), which has its own COVID-19 safety protocols. One rule ensures only the coaches, pitcher, and catcher may be in the dugout at once, while the rest of the team must remain socially distant outside.

Even during these tricky times Gatorball has managed to offer their players an opportunity to have college scouts see them play by traveling to various tournaments around the East Coast. While attending these out of state tournaments, all players and coaches continue to abide by protocols, emphasising team safety.

With Gatorballs fall season coming to an end, the focus is now on the next season, which will start in the spring and consist of only 17 year old’s and under. Largely due to the fact that it is unclear when students will return to in-person classes, Wilson baseball’s 2021 spring season does not have a definite timeline. One thing is for sure though, the players are anxious to get back on the diamond.

Junior Kai Leckszas, a current Wilson Varsity player said how “baseball is a huge part of the Wilson High School experience” for him, adding that, “as much as I’m looking forward to getting back into the classroom with my friends, I really can’t wait to get back out there with my Tiger teammates.”