Rice Lake Youth Soccer Association numbers are down this fall.

So far about 200 kids have signed up, down from the typical 300 or more.

Despite the drop in sign-ups, Rice Lake Soccer Association President Shawn Gilbert said the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the biggest reason for the decrease. As of Thursday only one family had opted out of playing this year over concerns for safety, he said.

“A bigger issue we have had is that with us canceling our spring season and no school in the spring, getting the word out about signups has been difficult,” Gilbert said.

Sign-ups were to be closed July 19, but Gilbert said families have requested the option to join after having missed the deadline. The Wisconsin Youth Soccer Association has also moved back its window to formulate teams giving the RLYSA more time to increase numbers. The extended application deadline is Aug. 2, WYSA said in its latest return to play update.

“I’m not saying that COVID is playing no part, but it is just one piece of the numbers puzzle for us,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert said another factor in the fewer numbers is the departure of a large group of youth players that are entering high school this fall.

For the Rice Lake youth soccer league to go on it must abide by the rules set forth by WYSA. Currenty in its “PLAY ON” protocol the organization remains in Phase II of its opening. Phase II allows for full practice but no competitions. Phase III, which would allow for games to be held, has a target date of Aug. 14.

Travel league play in Rice Lake is scheduled to begin Aug. 11 with practices Tuesdays and Thursdays at Moon Lake Park from 5:45-7:15 p.m.

Recreation league play begins Aug. 17 with play Mondays and Wednesdays at Moon Lake Park from 5:45-6:45 p.m.

In addition to WYSA the local youth league needs to be in alignment with the county health department. Gilbert said even if WYSA allows RLYSA to have competitions the county won’t allow for tournament that could bring a 1,000 people to the area. Barron County is currently deemed a high-risk area according to the state Department of Health based upon burden and trajectory of COVID-19 infections.

Gilbert said although usually scheduled tournaments in Minnesota and other travel opportunities may disappear, the soccer association is moving forward with plans to get kids back on the field in some form.

“Even if our competitions are lessened a little bit due to the travel restrictions, we still want to get kids back out and active, playing again,” he said. “So we’re fully intending on doing fall soccer, and it’s too early to fully know what that’s going to look like.”

Registrations are taken online at www.rlysa.com

Recreation divisions are:

• 5U/6U for birth years 2015 and 2016. Cost is $25.

• 7U/8U for birth years 2013 and 2014. Cost is $30.

• 9U/10U for birth years 2011 and 2012. Cost is $50.

Travel league divisions are:

• 9U/10U for birth years 2011 and 2012. Cost is $25. Players must also sign up and play in the Recreation league.

• 11U/12U for birth years 2009 and 2010. Cost is $85.

• 13U/14U/15U for birth years 2006, 2007 and 2008. Cost is $85.

• 19U (high school girls only) for birth years 2002-06. Cost is $40.

Rice Lake youth soccer officials note that volunteers are needed in the program. There is a place on the registration form to mark volunteer preference. Interested volunteers can also email Info@rlysa.com.

(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)

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