12 Days in March: Pete Borlase Reflects on the COVID-19 Shutdown

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Pete Borlase Reflects on the COVID-19 Shutdown

It was 68 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, March 7 when the Glendale Merlins and Seattle Saracens squared off on the turf at Infinity Park for the second time in as many weeks.

It was one of those March days in Colorado that makes people think they’ve made it through the cold, snowy days of the fall and the winter. Over 100 people, including several Colorado Raptors and the entire coaching staff, came out to enjoy both the sun and rugby being played on the pitch.

The Raptors were soaking in a well-deserved off-day after picking up a huge 22-19 victory over the undefeated Toronto Arrows the night before. The victory served as Colorado’s second victory in a row and the Raptors appeared to be trending in the right direction after dropping the first three matches of the season.

With a big victory in their back pocket, the Raptors were enjoying their downtime and resting up before a big week of preparation for a match against a 4-1 Old Glory D.C. team that was wreaking havoc in the East in their first season in Major League Rugby.

Raptors vs UTAH

“We had a good performance against Toronto, and we had kind of turned the corner a little bit,” Colorado Raptors head coach Pete Borlase said of that point of the season. “We went from 0-3 to 2-3. We don’t know what we don’t know, but I really thought that we’re going to go out to Washington D.C. and come back 3-3 and face a really good opportunity against Austin.”

The next few days were business as usual for the Raptors as they began to prepare for their sixth match of the season.

Thanks to 2020, though, we know all too well how much things can change over the course of a few days.

On March 12, just five days after the Raptors watched the Merlins take care of the Saracens, MLR announced that play would be suspended for 30 days before deciding whether or not the 2020 season would be able to be finished.

The decision to suspend play came just hours after the state of Washington announced a 30-day ban on gatherings consisting of over 250 people. With a match against the Seattle Seawolves set to take place at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Washington on March 29, the Raptors were ready to swap home matches with the back-to-back MLR champions so the season could go without any hiccups. Flipping flights and making a trip out to the Pacific Northwest for a May 24 match seemed like an easy solution to the problem.

With the United States being in the early stages of what ultimately turned out to be the COVID-19 pandemic, that plan was short-lived, and the situation snowballed from there.

“The first time that I knew that COVID was really on the radar for sport in the U.S. was when we looked at changing our game in Seattle to Glendale,” Making that switch was when I realized that.”

With the makings of a wild week in the works, Borlase’s week took another turn when he began to feel sick after wrapping for the day on Tuesday.

“That was a weird week because I actually finished the day here on a Tuesday and felt sick in the afternoon,” Borlase remembered. “I actually went home and I was in bed from Tuesday afternoon, and I didn’t even start getting out of bed until Friday afternoon. I believe on Thursday around lunchtime it came about that they were going to shut down the league for four weeks due to COVID, and I read that text in bed thinking I actually had COVID. It was a really weird week.”

Colorado Raptors Utah Warriors

Fortunately for Borlase, he didn’t end up having COVID. But when he got over his bug, he was faced with the difficult task of keeping his red-hot rugby team on track during this awkward 30-day break.

“It obviously escalated from there and we tried to keep the ball rolling for those four weeks but we ended up having to have a true stand down and what followed, followed.”

With ordinances, recommendations, and standards changing by the hour, the Raptors tried to figure out how they could operate as a professional rugby club in the early stages of a global pandemic. They worked to come up with creative ways to keep the players active while also keeping everyone safe and obeying the guidelines laid forth by local government officials.

After breaking for the weekend, the Raptors tried to keep things moving and normally as possible.

“When all that hit, it was so strange,” Borlase said of the week after the announcement to postpone the season was made. “Even on the Monday when we assembled, we were training without rugby balls and trying to get some soccer games going and the like.”

The soccer matches did their job but the inevitable was coming. With the chances of continuing the season looking bleaker by the day, Borlase and his staff made the decision to break for two weeks.

Players were given workout programs and instructed to stick around, but the writing was on the wall.

“Without diving into it too much, we didn’t know the severity of everything,” Borlase said of navigating through the difficult time. “Personally I was always erring on the side of caution because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. We talk about things being more than rugby. When a pandemic hits I think putting your player’s safety to the forefront is most important, so that was when we made the decision to disband for two weeks. It was about four or five days after that they made the call and here we are masked up.”

It was only a day or two after training was called off that it became evident that rugby wasn’t going to return in 2020. With New Zealand advising their citizens that happened to be abroad during this time period to return home immediately before they locked their borders down, New Zealand-born players across MLR packed their bags and jumped on the first flight home.

With uncertainty continuing to mount and a significant portion of the players that make up the competition out of the country, MLR had no choice but to vote to cancel the remainder of the 2020 season. The announcement came on March 19, just 12 days after that sunny Saturday in Glendale.

When we are faced with challenges in our life, we rely on the experience and guidance of people that have been in those situations before. As Borlase has learned during his time as a coach, there is always someone who has navigated through the waters and come out on the other side that is willing to offer up their advice. This situation was completely different. Like everyone else doing their best to navigate through this unique situation, Borlase was on his own.

“Honestly the toughest thing about that situation was not being able to lean on anyone who had experienced it,” Borlase said of his biggest challenge in March. “A lot of things that happen in rugby, for whatever reasons, you can usually tap into your resources and say, ‘Hey look, I don’t know what to do here,’ and sort of get a bit of guidance.”

Just like that, the season was over. The organization announced their decision to withdraw from MLR on April 9, just 31 days after that Saturday in March, and Borlase and his staff have quietly been working hard on the Raptors’ next move.

There will be many more sunny Saturday afternoons of rugby at Infinity Park, but so much needs to happen before those days are upon us.

A lot has changed since March 7.

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Applicants must be 21 years of age or older. The City of Glendale shall have at least one business day after receiving application to review. The City of Glendale reserves the right to take additional time to review any application.

Full payment of rental fees and required deposits are required at the time of application. A deposit will be required prior to your event and will be returned within 30 days after your event as long as no damages are incurred. An employee from Infinity Park and/or the Glendale Public Works department will report on any damages or cleaning charges before your deposit will be returned.

Rental fees are charged for the entire reserved time which is to include set-up and tear down/clean up. Your group will be expected to vacate space promptly at end time listed on permit. Additional fees may apply based on the size and scope of event.

The City of Glendale reserves the right to: 1) amend the rental rules as needed to serve the best interest of the City; 2) relocate any meeting/activity based on unforeseen circumstances; 3) have a designated employee visit any activity site or require that the Glendale Police Department enforce the terms of this rental agreement; 4) terminate the permit at any time in the interest of public safety without refund of rental fees or deposit.

The City of Glendale assumes no liability for lost or stolen property on park premises or for personal injuries sustained on the premises during the permit holder’s activity.

Permits will be issued upon approval of application. Reservation notices will be posted on the day of the event.

Changes to date or site may be charged $25.00 per permit change.

Applications

Applications should be submitted at least 10 business days prior to requested date of use. Applications received within 24 hours of event/activity may be charged a $25 service fee. Payment and all applicable documents must besubmitted at least 5 business days prior to permit date. Depending on the nature of the activity, “applicable” documents may include an Athletic Organization Information Form, Waiver of Liability and/or Insurance Agreement.

All applications will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis and will be accepted via mail, fax or email. Payment must accompany application before being considered. Any application submitted without complete information and/or without payment will not be reviewed.

Mailing Address: Infinity Park Operations, 950 S Birch St., Glendale, CO 80246
Email: Park@InfinityParkatGlendale.com
Fax: 303-639-4611

Payment

By mail: Applications must be accompanied by payment: check (made out to “City of Glendale”), money order or Visa/MasterCard.

By email or fax: A credit card authorization form must accompany application.

Rental Guidelines, Terms & Conditions

1. Daily Park Hours: The Synthetic Turf Athletic Field at Infinity Park is available to reserve from 8:00 AM until 10:00 PM. The volleyball courts, as well as the pavilions and fields at Creekside and Mir Parks, are available to reserve from 8:00 AM until 9:00 PM. Use of all spaces may be limited to certain months of the year and select days of the week

2. Park Permit: A permit is required for any group activity (“group” is defined as activities with 10 or more people). The permit must be in the possession of the group while the site is in use. Permits are non-transferable and non-refundable. The City of Glendale reserves the right to change and/or revoke any permit and restrict activities in the park at any given time. Any violations of City of Glendale policies, rules, regulations, or guidelines may result in immediate revocation of permit. Use of any of the facilities described in this document without the appropriate authorization may result in fines and possible loss of future scheduling privileges.

3. Usage Priority: If a site has been permitted, the permit-holder has priority over other users. Contact Park Operations (number listed on permit) for any site issues.

4. Fees: Fees are due in full; deposits or partial payments are not accepted. Acceptable forms of payment include cash, check, and money orders (made payable to City of Glendale) or Master Card or Visa Credit Cards.

5. Attendee Conduct: The permit-holder is responsible for his/her actions as well as the actions of gathering attendees.

6. Restroom Facilities: Restroom facilities are taken on an “as is” basis and are not part of any reserved space.

7. Vehicular Access: Motorized vehicles are strictly prohibited. Roadways and parking areas are clearly marked and established. Driving beyond designated boundaries to load and unload equipment or transport goods is prohibited. Vehicles will be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense.

8. Site Clean Up: It is the permit holder’s responsibility to clean up after each use. Trash must be properly disposed of in dumpsters or trash barrels (depending on the size and scope, certain permit holders may be required to provide additional trash receptacles/dumpsters). Ice may be placed in barrels or spread out on hard surfaces. Grills of any type are prohibited. Trash is not to be left in flowerbeds, on grassy areas, under/in trees, shrubs, vegetation, buildings, or structures. Excessive trash removal on the part of Infinity Park or the Glendale Public Works Department may result in forfeiture of deposit, fines and possible loss of future scheduling privileges.

9. Destruction of Property: It is unlawful for any person, other than authorized personnel, to mark, remove, break, or climb upon, or in any way injure, damage or deface trees, shrubs, plants, turf, or any of the buildings, fences, monuments, goal posts, or other structures or property within or upon the park.

10. Damage: Broken fences, seating, goals, or any potential safety hazards such as holes or broken sprinkler heads should be reported immediately to the phone number listed on the permit.

11. Glass Bottles/Containers: Glass bottles and containers are prohibited.

12. Alcoholic Beverages: 3.2% beer is the only alcoholic beverage allowed in the park, except under special licensing. Beer must be served in cans or from a keg in plastic cups. All State liquor laws apply. Alcoholic beverage sales, including purchased tickets, are prohibited, except under special licensing.

13. Dogs: Dogs must be on a leash at all times. Bag dispensers are provided, and dog owners are expected to clean up after their pets.

14. Amplified Sound: Amplified sound (i.e. P.A. systems, music) is prohibited without Assembly Permit or Special Event Contract.

15. Canopies and Tents: Tents, canopies and additional tables and chairs provided by groups using the parks/pavilions will be permitted. Staking is prohibited; weights, including water, lead and sand are allowed.

16. Signage: Signs, banners, party decorations, and canopies may not be attached to trees, shelters, light fixtures, or other park structures. Blocking areas, including sidewalks, parking lots, paths, and roadways is prohibited.

17. Prohibited Activities/Items: included, but not limited to: aircraft, air castles, carnivals, climbing walls, dunk tanks, fireworks, golf, horseback riding, hot air balloons, inflatable games, model airplanes, moon walks, petting zoos, pony rides, and search lights (some of these activities may be allowed with limited hours and Assembly City of Glendale 950 South Birch St, Glendale. CO 80246 Page | 6 permit or Special Event Contract). Weapons, including but not limited to such items as knives, firearms, bows and arrows, martial arts weapons, javelins, shot-puts, discus, and all other projectiles, are prohibited. All Federal, State and Municipal laws apply.

18. Admission: Charging admission or gate charges is prohibited, except under a Special Event or Assembly permit.

19. Gambling: Raffles, gambling, bingo, and games where money buys a chance are prohibited.

20. Grills: Mir and Creekside Park Pavilions: portable gas grills are allowed (permit holders may also use the grills located at the pavilions); Infinity Park: grills of all types – charcoal, gas, portable, etc., – are prohibited. Two (2) stationary, charcoal grills are located west of the pavilion.

21. Event Equipment Needs: The permit holder is responsible for providing all necessary equipment and services, including but not limited to activity-related equipment, canopies, tents, chairs, tables, scaffolding, portable toilets, hand sinks, water or water containers, trash receptacles, trash pick-up, recycling, and clean-up crews. All equipment and fixtures provided by permit holder must be temporary in nature and may not be affixed, attached or permanently change the condition of the playing surface.

22. Insurance: Insurance is required for reservations for 100 or more people. In such cases, permit holder must provide commercial general liability insurance for the benefit of all activity-related individuals and groups, including permit holder group members, participants, attendees, invitees, and the City of Glendale. The commercial general liability insurance shall provide coverage of at least $1,000,000 and name the City of Glendale, its employees, agents and/or assigns as Additional Insured. The certificate of this commercial general liability insurance shall be received by theCity no later than twenty-one (21) days prior to the permit holder’s scheduled use of the site reserved. Permit holder expressly acknowledges and agrees that homeowner’s insurance coverage does not meet the requirements hereof. Certificate must read as follows with this exact language: ADDITIONALLY INSURED: THE CITY OF GLENDALE, ITS OFFICERS, OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES. If you are unable to obtain this insurance, please contact Park Operations at 303-692-5799

23. Permit Revocation: Permits may be revoked for failure to follow guidelines in any way.

ADDITIONAL GUIDELINES SPECIFIC TO SPORTS FIELDS

1. Field Conditions: Athletic field permit holders may be asked to limit field use hours and days as determined by Infinity Park Operations and/or the City of Glendale Public Works Department. In the case of adverse field conditions, such as weather, sprinkler operations, field repairs, etc., athletic fields may be closed. Any use of the athletic fields without the appropriate authorization or when the fields are closed may result in fines and possible loss of future scheduling privileges.

2. Snow Removal: Individuals are not allowed to remove snow from any of the fields.

3. Equipment: All teams, organizations and players are required to provide their own equipment for practices, games and tournaments. All equipment and fixtures provided by permit holder must be temporary in nature and may not be affixed, attached or permanently change the condition of the playing surface.

4. Field Markings: Any field markings not applied by the Glendale Public Works Department may result in forfeiture of deposit, penalty fees and loss of future scheduling privileges.

5. Insurance/Waiver of Liability Options: Option 1. The permit holder provides 1) a roster with player names, addresses and cities of residence listed and 2) proof of insurance on an “Accord Insurance Certificate.” Insurance Certificate must 1) reflect a minimum coverage amount of $1,000,000; 2) reflect a 30 day cancellation period with notice of intent to cancel provided to Infinity Park AND the City of Glendale at the address listed on the permit; and 3) state the Additionally Insured as “THE CITY OF GLENDALE, ITS OFFICERS, OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES.” Binders and pending or blanket policies are not acceptable.

Option 2. In lieu of an Insurance Certificate, permit holder signs waiver form on behalf of all participants (form located next page).