LEHI, Utah – The Legacy Center in Lehi, Utah, has been a staple of suburban Salt Lake City for decades. Countless numbers of children have learned self-confidence on the courts and balance on the beams. When COVID-19 hit, it meant game over.
“I just stayed home and didn’t do that much,” said 10-year-old Michael Jacob.
For the kids, the closure of the recreation center was a crushing defeat.
“I felt horrible,” said 11-year-old Copper Hill. “I was like thinking, ‘this sucks that I don’t get to play baseball this year.’”
Many parents felt the same way.
“Emotionally, you know, it took a big toll on them and on us when they weren’t able to get out and be involved,” said parent Jeremy Hill.
However, as things began to normalize, the city saw an opportunity to try and safely reopen.
Brittany Crumback oversees all the youth sports for the city.
“I think a lot of local support from our city council and our city administration helped a lot because they really wanted us to have programs to give the kids something to do,” Crumback said.
So, the city came up with a playbook for the new normal, including temperature checks at the door, face masks for anyone not actively playing a sport, a limit on spectators and contact tracing.
“For the most part, it’s kind of business as usual, just a little safer,” Crumback said.
Crumback admits all the extra planning to make this season happen hasn’t been a slam dunk, but it’s been worth it.
“To see a junior in high school be so excited to come and play basketball with our rec center is just amazing,” Crumback said with a smile. “That is why we do it and yeah this is working.”
Crumback said, so far, no outbreaks have been linked to the facility.
Sure, everyone in the building would still like to karate chop the virus, but at least for now, the kids have a little piece of their old lives back.
“One of my ways to express my feelings is through sports and stuff like that and I would just hate to not be able to do that,” Hill said.
And that’s a win no matter what the numbers read on the scoreboard.
“Overall, it’s been great. The kids are just so excited,” Crumback said. “You come into this and I’ve never seen kids happier to play basketball.”