By Brian Maass

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Robert Salazar, 8, is wistful about not getting to play baseball this summer.

“It makes me feel sad,” he said. ”I’m scared of coronavirus and me getting sick.”

(credit: CBS)

His mother signed him up in January for a 10-month program with the Colorado Natives
Baseball club. She paid $1,000 up front with another $500 due later in the year.

But after the pandemic began to spread, practices were suspended. When they resumed,
Robert’s mother, LaVonne Salazar, opted not to let him continue over coronavirus fears.

“I was worried about my family and a second round of coronavirus and I didn’t feel comfortable with my son playing,” she said.

Salazar, a single mother, works full time as a clerk in a local hospital emergency room and said that experience guided her decision making.

(credit: CBS)

“I see what they are going through and I don’t want my family to go through that,” she said.

But when she asked for a refund, the baseball organization said it could not offer a refund but offered a variety of options including private coaching at the end of the season, credit toward a future season and the league owner waived the additional $500 Salazar owed.

But as a single working mother, Salazar said she really would have liked to receive her money back.

“That money means a lot to me,” she said.

Marcos Garcia, the baseball club’s director, said he could not refund money he did not have.

”The money she gave me is already invested — uniforms, insurance, parks, facility costs.”

He showed CBS4 an array of equipment for Robert Salazar that had already been paid for and delivered to the baseball club including jerseys, hats, helmet, socks and a team backpack.

(credit: CBS)

Garcia said the value of the gear itself was around $450.

He said money he has paid out for fields, parks and facility costs hasn’t been refunded and would likely be returned to the organization as credit, not cash.

While youth sports leagues are handling refunds in a wide variety of ways, many are in line with the Colorado Natives and are offering future credit.

When the National Flag Football league in Colorado cancelled its season, it said registration fees had already been spent on jerseys, equipment, insurance, marketing, staff and background checks. It offered a partial refund of $45 or a credit of $75 for future league play.
When Durango Youth Softball and Baseball cancelled their season, they offered no refunds for registration fees.

On the other hand, Denver Parks and Rec has refunded money to families who signed up for leagues that were cancelled.

Robert Salazar is sad about missing out on baseball but seems understanding beyond his years.

”It’s hard because I want to play with my team and go against other people because it’s fun when I go against other people because when I fail, I learn new stuff.”

Brian Maass

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