Tiffin to start first ever recreational sports leagues amid pandemic

Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 9:49 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Tiffin is the fastest growing city in Iowa, according to the United States Census Bureau. The city has exploded in size, from 460 in 1990 to an estimate of 3,670 in 2018, according to census data.

Now, the city is starting its very first recreation department. Doing so during a pandemic hasn’t been easy.

“When I’m older I want to be a pitcher in softball, and I want to be a server in volleyball,” Ainsley Haas, a child from North Liberty, said.

Ainsley was given the honorary title of “First Ever Volleyball Player” under Tiffin’s new initiative. She would have had to register in one of the surrounding cities before the department was created.

“I think it’s really good to learn that and play with other classmates that she’s with,” Matt Haas, Ainsley’s father, said. “And other kids that she’s going to grow up with and be part of the Clear Creek[-Amana] school district.”

Matt is excited to see his daughter playing volleyball. However, with the number of COVID-19 cases in Johnson County on the rise since June 12 after the state started to ease restrictions, he has some reservations.

“I think everyone wants to be cautious with everything going on now these days,” Matt said. “I just think it’s obviously hard to social distance when you’re playing a sport and athletics. As a coach myself, I know exactly how that is, and how hard that is, but I think it’s just adapt and overcome.”

This fall would include youth volleyball, flag football, and adult co-ed softball. Frank Haege is heading the new department and said he’s watching the numbers carefully.

“You talk to other recreation directors, ‘OK, what are you guys doing? How are you handling spectators? How are you handling water? How are you handling referees? How are you handling the bench, the spacing? Number of kids on the court?‘” Haege said. “You just try to use best practices.”

Haege said he’s also following guidance from the Iowa High School Athletic Association. He said because recreational leagues are more for fun than competitive, safety will come first when making decisions.

“We’re not at the high levels,” Haege said. “The gate, the TV money that’s so important where they might push the envelope. We don’t have to, so safety will be the first concern.”

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