MADISON, WI – Playing it safe has been in a constant state of evolution since the Coronavirus pandemic hit in 2019. For the Greater Madison Senior Softball (GMSS) league, they have had to make decisions about keeping their participants and spectators as healthy and unharmed as possible. In 2020, this meant canceling the season altogether. In 2021, the league returned to Verona Community Park but organizers had issued protocols and guidelines that were closely followed so as not to perpetuate the spread of Covid-19.
This year, the Covid-19 safety measures have been drastically relaxed. In fact, on the GMSS website, the only guideline regarding the virus is encouraging players to wear a mask at the pre-season indoor practices because “some of the younger players won’t be vaccinated yet.”
With Coronavirus cases going down and vaccinations ever-increasing, GMSS is close to being back to normal game play. But health and safety are still a top concern.
“These guys have battled cancer and heart attacks, diabetes, knee and hip replacements, and, yes, even COVID,” GMSS commissioner Ron Ramsden says. “But the love of the game drives our players, and as organizers, we want to do everything we can to prevent them from being harmed when they’re out on the field.”
A big step the league is taking this year is investing in two automated external defibrillators (AED) to keep at the ball fields.
“Verona EMS is tentatively going to give classes on CPR and AED use at our April 20, 21, 27, 28 ball practices at the Verona diamonds for any interested ball players,” says Ramsden. “And with about 270 players – all over the age of 55 – it’s far better to be safe than sorry.”
Ramsden says the finances to purchase the defibrillators came to the league in a bittersweet way. He says that an avid member of the league, who last played a full season in 2017, passed away this past December. The deceased man’s family knew how much he enjoyed his time playing in GMSS, so they made a sizable donation to the league.
“We decided purchasing defibrillators for the ball parks was a worthy memorial project,” says Ramsden. “And we’re grateful that his family contributed hundreds of dollars towards the purchase to honor him.” Smart Motors, the league’s sponsor, contributed the additional funding to purchase the two AEDs.
Another change to this year’s safety measures for the league involves the use of “courtesy runners.” According to the GMSS website, “each participant is now required to answer the question on the Registration Form as to whether he or she will require a Courtesy Runner. Per GMSS policy and rules, courtesy runners are allowed for medical reasons only, such as heart issues or joint replacements or the likelihood of joint or bone damage from hard running.”
“You may notice the phrase ‘he or she’ in the website’s verbiage,” says Ramsden. “Women are indeed allowed to play in the league, too. In fact, we did have a women last year, but sadly none have signed up for the 2022 season yet.”
GMSS has 24 teams this year with an average roster of 13-14 players each, although probably 70 players play twice a week. They have about 270 individuals participating in GMSS leagues.
The Greater Madison Senior Softball league was started in 2010 by childhood friends Ray Blum and Bob Ruhland. Since the league inception, Smart Motors has been, and continues to be, the leagues sole sponsor. GMSS is open to adults 55 years and older. Registration for additional teams is now being accepted. Indoor practices are currently underway at 6385 N. Towne Rd., Windsor, WI. Regular league games will take place every Wednesday and Thursday at 9:30 a.m. starting May 4th at the Verona Community Park at 451 E. Verona Avenue. The season concludes on Sept. 1, 2022. For more information, check out the league’s website at www.greatermadisonseniorsoftball.com.