Copa America final

Players from Pasco's Valencia and Goats FC from Yakima compete in last August's championship match of the Copa America at the Sozo Sports Complex. (Neri Medrano/For El Sol de Yakima)

A few area sports could come back as early as next month if Yakima can move into the next two phases of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan for Washington.

Sozo Sports of Central Washington executive director Greg Lybeck said fields could open up to modified practices if Yakima County becomes eligible for Phase 2. Games at Sozo and sports run by the city’s parks and recreation department, including softball, won’t start until Phase 3.

“We keep planning and we keep getting pushed back,” Lybeck said. “I think in general people want to play.”

City of Yakima Parks and Recreation manager Ken Wilkinson said a few softball teams already signed up for the next season, but most are waiting to see if and when it will start. The department also plans to hold off on kids soccer practices and opening tennis/pickleball courts at Franklin and Kissel Park until Yakima County reaches phase 3.

The Washington Youth Soccer Association published a list of guidelines Lybeck said Sozo and local teams would likely follow. Those rules call for no contact and no groups larger than five players in phase 2, and Lybeck said parents would probably be asked to stay in their vehicles.

He also expects to add handwashing stations and require players and coaches to wear masks when arriving to and departing from practice. Along with soccer, Lybeck said pickleball in the Sozo gym could start this summer and he’s still hoping for a busy August, which would include the Hot Shots 3-on-3 basketball tournament.

Hector Vega says he fields five or six calls every day from people wondering when Yakima’s Mexican League will start at Sozo’s soccer fields. Vega said teams could even adjust to play 6v6 or 7v7 if it would allow them to follow the state’s guidelines and get back on the field sooner.

“It’s just a matter of the governor,” Vega said. “Once they give us the green light, we’re ready to play.”

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