Vienna Little League Safety Plan
The purpose of this Safety Plan is to maintain awareness of, and improve the use of, practices and procedures that increase the safety of all participants in the Vienna Little League program.
Fairfax County Child Protective Services 703-324-7400
Vienna Police Non-Emergency 703-255-6300
Yeonas Park Operations/Concessions 703-573-4285
League Safety Officer John O'Keefe 202-380-8382
League President Michael Jreige 703-928-3491
1. Goals & Roles
1.1 - League Safety Goals
Vienna Little League is committed to employing sound safety protocols to reduce the incidence of injuries arising from youth baseball. Nationwide, more than 110,000 children are treated every year in emergency rooms for baseball-related injuries, according to the Center for Injury Research and Policy.
The League also strives to prevent the emotional harm youth athletes can experience as a result of poor behavior by peers or adults. According to research published by Childhelp, about half of all youth athletes report experiencing some degree of bullying or other emotional abuse in their sport, about a third of coaches admit to having yelled at players for mistakes, and one in five coaches acknowledge having made fun of a player with limited skills.
The physical and emotional health and well-being of players is of paramount importance to the League, as is the safety of our volunteers, spectators, and other participants. All League Members have essential roles in creating the safest possible baseball experience.
1.2 - Role of League President
The League President is responsible for:
Ensuring the affairs of the League are conducted in conformity to all safety-related policies, principles, rules, and regulations of Little League International;
Providing oversight of investigations conducted pursuant to Section 4 of this plan, and reporting thereon to the Board of Directors for information and/or action;
Completing all actions necessary to maintain Accident and General Liability insurance coverage for the League; and
Ensuring essential safety-related information is annually submitted to Little League International through the Little League Data Center.
1.3 - Role of League Safety Officer
The League Safety Officer is responsible for:
Creating awareness, through education and information, of opportunities to provide a safer environment for all League participants;
Developing and implementing a plan to increase the safety of League activities, equipment, and facilities through education, compliance, and reporting;
Collecting and maintaining reports of any injuries that occur during League activities, as provided by Section 4 of this plan;
Investigating any safety-related incidents, complaints, or irregularities, and reporting thereon to the League President and/or Board of Directors pursuant to Section 4 of this plan;
Ensuring the completion of all processes for volunteer screening, as required by Section 2 of this plan and Little League International's Child Protection Program;
Verifying that first-aid supplies are distributed to teams and otherwise readily accessible at League-controlled facilities;
Conducting an annual field/facility survey, as required by Section 3 of this plan, and advocating to the League or other facility owner or stakeholder for reasonable safety improvements needed at those fields or facilities;
Serving as the League's liaison to local emergency services and other government authorities with safety-related or protective missions; and
Coordinating any response by the League to public-health emergencies such as disease outbreaks, epidemics, or pandemics.
1.4 - Role of Coaching Coordinator
The Coaching Coordinator is responsible for:
Developing, identifying, and/or implementing educational programming for League Managers and Coaches on topics that promote the objectives of this plan.
1.5 - Role of Managers and Coaches
Team Managers and Coaches are responsible for:
Completing the screening and training requirements specified in Section 2 of this plan;
Promoting safety during team activities by enforcing all rules and safety protocols, including equipment requirements, and suspending activities when unsafe field or weather conditions exist;
Conducting pre-event field and equipment inspections required by Section 3 of this plan;
Maintaining and having accessible during team activities completed player Medical Release Forms, first-aid kits and other safety-related supplies, and, if applicable, pitch-count logs, as required by Section 3 of this plan; and
Promptly reporting accidents, injuries, or other safety-related concerns arising from team activities, as provided in Section 4 of this plan.
1.6 - Role of Parents/Guardians
Parents or guardians of players are responsible for:
Providing the player's Manager/Coach with a current completed Medical Release Form prior to the start of the season;
Informing the player's Manager/Coach of any illness, ailment, condition, or disability that may affect the safety of the player or other participants in League activities;
Supplying the player with all necessary protective equipment, as provided in Section 3 of this plan, other than those shared items that may be furnished to the team by the League; and
Reporting to the League any observed behaviors or practices that may endanger the health, safety, or well-being of participants.
1.7 - Role of Adult Umpires and Game Coordinators
Adult Umpires (or, in their absence, Game Coordinators) are responsible for:
Promoting safety during games by enforcing all playing rules and safety protocols, including equipment requirements, and suspending play when unsafe field or weather conditions exist; and
Inspecting playing fields for hazards prior to games.
1.8 - Role of Quartermaster
The Quartermaster is responsible for:
Ensuring that any player equipment to be furnished to teams is of acceptable quality, in good condition, and safe for play, as required by Section 3 of this plan.
1.9 - Role of Concession Stand Supervisor
The Concession Stand Supervisor is responsible for:
Maintaining the concession stand in a clean and safe condition;
Training concession stand staff and volunteers and enforcing the requirements in Section 5 of this plan; and
Completing weekly reports on the safety of food-concession operations and identifying for the League any deviations or necessary corrective actions.
1.10 - Role of Other League Members
All League Members are responsible for:
Reporting to the League any safety risks or other unsafe/concerning behaviors, conditions, or circumstances they observe either (a) during any League activities or (b) involving any League volunteer or player.
2. Volunteer Screening & Training
2.1 - Volunteer Screening Procedures
The following persons will complete a Little League Official Volunteer Application and submit to a background check at least once annually and, if requested by the League Safety Officer, will supply a government-issued photo identification card to verify identity:
All Managers and Coaches of League teams;
All League officers and members of the Board of Directors; and
All other adults who provide regular service to the League or have repetitive contact with players.
Any such person may ask the Safety Officer to initiate an online application and background check.
The background check will be conducted by JDP (or a similar entity approved by Little League International) and will screen against nationwide data for sex offender registries and other criminal records. The results will be retained in confidence by the League Safety Officer and/or League President for at least the duration of the year of service.
The League Safety Officer will regularly review the results of background checks to verify no person involved in League activities requires disqualification based upon:
a conviction, guilty/no-contest plea, or other admission for a crime involving/against a minor; or
refusal to complete a Volunteer Application or submit to a background check.
2.2 - Training for Managers/Coaches
The League Safety Officer, together with the Coaching Coordinator, will organize in-person and/or online clinics for Managers and Coaches at least once annually that address the following topics:
Coaching fundamentals; and/or
Player health and conditioning (e.g., arm care and concussion awareness).
Annual attendance will be encouraged, but all Managers and Coaches will attend such training at least once every three years. Attendance records will be maintained to assure compliance with this requirement.
In addition, all Volunteers will be encouraged to review the online Educational Materials provided with this plan.
The League also requires all its Managers and Coaches to be trained and certified by the Positive Coaching Alliance at least once every three years.
2.3 - Data Submission
The League President will annually submit to Little League International a copy of all Manager and Coach data as well as all Player data.
3. Safe-Play Protocols
NOTE: Supplemental safety protocols are in place for activities occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our "Return to Play" plan is available at http://rtp.vll.org.
3.1 - Annual Facility Survey
At least once annually, the League Safety Officer will conduct a survey of all playing fields and other facilities regularly used by the League to inspect for safety hazards and identify safety improvements that may be needed. The survey will cover, among other things:
field surfaces (including any pitcher's mound);
dugouts and benches;
fencing, screening, and backstops (including padding);
warning tracks; and
any "batter's eye" or "pitcher's eye" areas.
When needed improvements are identified, the League Safety Officer will present recommendations to the Board of Directors and to any other facility owners/stakeholders and advocate for reasonable budgetary allocations for the improvements.
3.2 - Equipment
Prior to the commencement of a season, the League Quartermaster will ensure the inventory of player equipment to be furnished to teams (e.g., bats, batting helmets, gloves, and catcher's gear) is of acceptable quality, in good condition, and safe for play. Any damaged equipment or equipment found not to fully meet safe standards will be repaired or discarded.
Player-worn equipment, whether League-furnished or self-supplied, will adhere to the following requirements:
Helmets: While batting during practices or games, all players will wear a protective helmet that meets the head-injury protection specifications of the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). For added face protection while batting, the League will encourage the use of NOCSAE-certified batting helmets that are manufactured with extended jaw guards, also known as cheek flaps or "C-flaps"
Bats: All bats used in VLL practices or games in the Majors, Minors, or Tee Ball Divisions will comply with the USABat youth bat standard. All bats used in VLL practices or games in the Intermediate (50/70) Division will comply with either the USABat standard or the Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) standard.
Catcher's Gear: Catchers will wear a NOCSAE-certified catcher's helmet with a face mask and throat guard, a long model chest protector, leg guards, and a genital protector.
Eyewear: Players who require corrective eyewear or sunglasses will be encouraged to wear Rec Specs® or other safety glasses and/or to secure glasses with a head strap.
Other Protective Guards: Players may utilize other protective guards while batting (e.g., elbow shields or mouth guards), but players will not wear any other hard objects or decorative items, including jewelry, watches, rings, or bracelets.
Umpires positioned behind home plate will wear protective face masks/helmets and utilize a chest protector during all games.
3.3 - Pre-event Field and Equipment Inspections
Prior to all practices and games, a Manager, Coach, and/or Umpire/Game Coordinator will inspect the field for any hazard that could present an unsafe situation for the players, volunteers, or spectators, such as rocks, holes, trash, broken glass, animal feces, etc. Any such hazards will be removed or otherwise addressed before the practice or game commences.
In addition to field inspections, Managers, Coaches, and/or Umpires/Game Coordinators will periodically check playing equipment to verify it meets protective standards, is free of any obvious signs of damage or disrepair such as cracks or tears, and remains safe to use. Damaged items will not be used in practices or games.
Managers/Coaches will also ensure that, in case of an emergency, they have accessible to them a Medical Release Form for every player, a First Aid kit, and a telephone.
3.4 - Other Game and Practice Safety Protocols
Only players, Managers, Coaches, and Umpires will be allowed on the playing field during games and practices.
During warm-up drills, players will be spaced sufficiently apart to minimize the risk of injury from wild throws or missed catches.
Whenever batters are facing live pitching, players will be alert and watching the batter on each pitch.
All designated "dugout" areas and bat/equipment racks will be positioned behind a fence or screen to protect players on the bench from foul balls and wild throws.
Warm-up swings by on-deck batters in games will not be allowed in the Tee Ball, Minors, or Majors Divisions. No player in those Divisions will handle a bat during a game, even while in an enclosure, unless it is the player's turn to bat or the player is retrieving another player's bat after a play. The on-deck position is permitted in the Intermediate (50-70) Division.
Foul balls batted out of the playing area during a game will be delivered to a Manager or Coach after retrieval before being returned to play.
Only a properly equipped player (wearing protective catcher's gear) will warm up a pitcher; adults will never perform the "bullpen" catcher function.
Bases on all League fields (other than home plate) will be capable of disengaging from their anchors in accordance with Little League Baseball Rule 1.06; all base-sliding practices/drills will be conducted either with Rule 1.06-compliant bases or "throw-down" bases. Installation and use of a "double first base" (also known as a "safety base") will be encouraged, and at non-competitive levels a throw-down base may be used for this purpose.
Head-first slides at any base will not be allowed, except when a runner is returning to a base. (In accordance with Little League Baseball Rule 7.08, a head-first slide in a game, will result in the runner being called out.)
Batting or soft toss into a fence or backstop and "pepper" games will not be allowed.
Team Managers/Coaches will maintain a pitch-count log for any game in which a youth pitcher is used and further will ensure that any such pitcher:
throws no more than the maximum number of pitches allowed per day based upon the player's age, and
observes the required days of rest between pitching sessions (see Little League pitching rules). For pitchers who play in multiple leagues (e.g., VLL and NVTBL), required rest days between pitching sessions will account for play in both leagues.
Games and practices will be suspended whenever field conditions become unsafe, particularly when daylight/lighting is inadequate.
No alcohol, tobacco products, or pets (other than certified service animals) will be allowed at any League practices or games.
4. Incident Response & Reporting
4.1 - Medical Treatment
Managers and Coaches are typically the "first responders" in the event of an injury to a player or other League event participant. Although minor scrapes, cuts, and bruises will often be treated on site without professional assistance, Managers/Coaches will request emergency medical response services whenever the circumstances of an injury suggest that examination or intervention by a medical professional is warranted.
To ensure that emergency medical responders have the necessary authorization and information to properly treat an injured minor, the Team Manager/Coach will have accessible at all team activities a copy of the parent/guardian-completed Medical Release Form for each player. Submission of the completed form to the Manager/Coach will be required as a precondition for any player's participation in team practices or games.
Managers and Coaches will have League-furnished first-aid kits accessible during all team activities. Parents/guardians of players will be encouraged to supply other safety-related items for team/player use, such as instant cold packs, hand sanitizer, insect repellent, and sunscreen.
4.2 - Reporting and Investigation
Managers and Coaches will promptly report to the League Safety Officer any accident or other incident during a team activity that results in injury to a participant. An "injury" is any circumstance requiring medical treatment or first aid and includes even passive treatments such as evaluation and diagnosis. Incidents that subsequently cause the player to miss practice or game time will also be reported, regardless of whether the incident initially required medical treatment or first aid.
All such injuries will be documented within 48 hours of the incident using the Incident/Injury Tracking Report. The League Safety Officer will retain such reports for at least one year.
The League Safety Officer will follow up and investigate, as needed, the cause of the injury and actions taken in response and will make recommendations, as applicable, regarding how such injuries could be prevented and/or the response improved.
Volunteers, parents, and players also will be encouraged to report to the League Safety Officer any concerns about bullying or other abusive behavior by League participants.
Any suspicions of child abuse or neglect will be reported immediately to the Fairfax County Child Protective Services Hotline (703-324-7400). See Virginia Code § 63.2-1509A(16) (requiring any "athletic coach, director or other [adult] person employed by or volunteering with a ... private sports organization or team" to report suspected child abuse/neglect).
The League Safety Officer will report to the League President and/or the Board of Directors on the results of any investigations of safety-related incidents, complaints, or irregularities.
4.3 - Insurance and Liability Protections
The League will maintain Accident and General Liability insurance consistent with the coverage requirements and policy limits specified in Little League International regulations. Claims under the policy will be processed by League officials in accordance with Little League International procedures.
Volunteers in good standing with the League have personal liability protection under federal law from most claims of negligence related to the conduct of their responsibilities for the League.
5. Food Concessions
NOTE: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Yeonas Park Concession Stand will remain closed until further notice.
5.1 - Yeonas Park Concession Stand Staffing
Concession stand staff/volunteers will be trained in safe food handling procedures and the proper operation and maintenance of equipment (e.g., hot dog roller grill, snow cone machine, popcorn maker, freezer, and ice maker), as it relates to their assigned duties.
Training will be provided by the Concession Stand Supervisor prior to the start of each season.
No person under the age of 13 will work in the concession stand without direct adult volunteer supervision.
The Concession Stand Supervisor will complete the Weekly Concession Stand Checklist each Saturday of the season, commencing with the week prior to the first game of the season.
5.2 - Food and Beverage Sales
All food and beverages offered for sale at the concession stand will meet the standards specified in the Weekly Concession Stand Checklist and will consist of the following types of items:
prepackaged food and beverages (e.g., soda, water, juice, candy, gum, seeds, chips, pretzels, ice-cream/frozen novelties, and other manufacturer-packaged snacks);
pre-cooked, ready-to-eat foods that require heating (e.g., hot dogs); and
snacks prepared in the concession stand (e.g., popcorn and snow cones)
Only items purchased directly by the League or supplied by a restaurant or other licensed food vendor will be sold at the Yeonas Park concession stand.
5.3 - Concession Stand Maintenance & Equipment
The concession stand will be kept clean and meet the standards specified in the Weekly Concession Stand Checklist.
During concession stand operations, the entrance will not be locked or blocked in any way.
The concession stand will be secured at all times when not in operation, and the only persons with access to the keys or combinations to unlock the facility will be the Concession Stand Supervisor, League-designated Volunteers with responsibilities for opening or closing the concession stand, and members of the Board of Directors.
Concession stand equipment will be inspected periodically and repaired or replaced as needed.
A certified fire extinguisher will be kept in plain sight at all times.
All cleansers will be stored in a secure cabinet or container, away from food items, when not in use.
A fully stocked first aid kit will be kept in the concession stand.
6. Weather Safety
All adult participants in League activities will remain vigilant for weather conditions that create an unsafe environment for baseball, such as extreme heat, poor air quality, or severe storms (e.g., thunder/lightning, high winds, heavy rain, hail, or tornadoes).
Managers and Coaches will be encouraged to utilize tools, such as mobile phone applications, that provide awareness when there is a substantial risk of unsafe weather conditions occurring locally.
Thunderstorms are a particularly prevalent (and potentially deadly) risk during portions of the Spring and Fall seasons. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lightning strikes caused an average of 27 deaths per year in the United States between 2009 and 2018. In 1987, a 14-year-old alumnus of Vienna Little League, Stephen Paul Black, was struck and killed by lightning outside his family's home. One of the premier fields used by the League, Black Field at Nottoway Park, was dedicated in his memory.
Games and practices will stop as soon as thunder is heard or lightning is spotted. Participants will seek shelter in an automobile or in a building or fully enclosed structure (not a dugout, gazebo or picnic shelter). Activities will not resume until at least 30 minutes have passed since an observed thunderclap or lightning strike.
Decisions to suspend in-progress League activities based upon any other weather-related conditions will be made at the discretion of Managers/Coaches (for practices) and Adult Umpires or Game Coordinators (for games).
Locations of primary VLL Playing Fields
See Something, Say Something
If you observe any safety risks or concerning behavior at a VLL event, please report it to the League Safety Officer as soon as possible. If it is an emergency, call 911.