Mother Nature Puts a Strangle Hold On Area Spring Sports sold On Spring Sports Issue Date: April 12, 2018
A few weeks ago when looking to the weather many may have begun digging out the shorts and t-shirts. Having seen two major stomrs hit the area in the past two weeks and another storm predicted for this weekend, area atheletic Directors and coaches are left to deal with the aftermath.
It's Disappointing for those looking to get outdoors and into the sun, especially those involved in spring sports who have seen their already short seasons cut down.
"Its very frustrating," said Peshtigo AD Bill Wickman. "In all sports we have lost events this season due to the weather. Everything is going to be backed up. Last week I had a conference meeting and we are looking at scheduling double headers for both baseball and softball if we can find open dates. The whole Packerland is experiencing this as well. Golf courses are not open yet, tracks have not been cleared of snow and base/softball fields are still snow covered."
Wickman exampled a bit of what goes into rescheduling these games.
"If we have to make up a conference game and the only date open is one with a non-conference game we will bump the non-conference game. You have to communicate with the opposing ADs to get all this right. Its not just finding an open date but finding officials as well. They book their games a year in advance. They just might not be open for the rescheduled date. I think we are two weeks out concerning golf."
Adding to the problem of rescheduling events according to Wickman is the transportation problem, "Often times you are limited on the dates you can reschedule contests simply because there are not enough buses availble to transport the student athletes. Having to reschedule multiple contests in a short period of time creates busing issues, and can add to overcrowded atheletic fields. Unfortunalty this can actually hurt the programs involved. Many times it's the underclassmen teams that suffer in this situation. Since the Varisty programs with conference affiliation have first priority on facility use, it's the J.V. and Frreshamn teams that loose out when space is limited."
Spring snow storms are no stranger to the area. Many spring seasons have seen one to two weeks cut out due to cold and wet weather. But what makes this season a bit different is the pitch count and how that will work with make up games finding their way into already weeks jammed packed with games. The concept of getting bottlenecked midseason starts to become something to be concerned about.
"With contests being pushed back, I think the biggest concern for most coaches is getting "Bottle necked" mid season or the end of the season to make up conference games," said Marinette Head Baseball Coach Andy Walters. "Those conference games then take the place of some of your non-conference games ultimately resulting in less games for you kids. Our players and coaches are ready to play. We value practice time but we're definitely looking forward to playing our first game. Due to the pitch count rules, the difficulty comes with the depth of your pitching. Teams will have to utilize their number 4, 5, and 6 pitchers more than they may have in the past. We feel fortunate this year that we have pretty good depth in pitching to be able to weather the storm of a compacted schedule. It's nice when you're able to schedule most of your non-conference game in early April, when most cancellations happen, so you have the option to make them up."
Crivitz's head coach Jeff Dorschner also expressed concerns over how the roster will work out with the reschedules.
"This spring will definitely provide some challenges for our team with the late start," said Crivitz AD/Baseball Head Coach Jeff Dorschner. "Even though we have 10 conference games to get in, we have a load of non-conference games that may get put on the back burner. We also had some JV baseball games scheduled that may not be played because we'll need those pitchers to fill in for our varsity games.
But this won't be just a Crivitz problem, this will be something every team in the area will experience as they work their way through the season.
"Everyone will be in the same boat," said Dorschner. "But I feel for the kids in all our spring sports because it takes away opportunities to compete. The spring season is going to fly by once we get outside and it will be over before we can blink. Our spring athletes are itching to get outside which makes practices difficult to plan with the limited resources we have indoors."
Talk about limited indoor space, most schools have softball, baseball and track all fighting for gym space.
"I agree that the spring season being put off by the weather has been hard on everyone," said Peshtigo Track Coach Joe Nault. "Not only track, but baseball and softball also compete for available indoor space to try and keep our athlete's conditioning and preparation programs on schedule."
Where some worries may start to come in this season is in the fact that southern schools may start to outpace the competition in practice due to their scheduled events not getting canceled this late.
"Without a doubt, some of the Track teams in the southern parts of our State might have an advantage of having competed in a handful more meets than the northern teams," said Nault. "These early meets can help sort out technique, team rosters, and also get some of the early season competition jitters out of their systems. Our Athletes have been super eager to go out and compete as well but just haven't had the opportunities yet. I will say that where the weather could take the wind out of some kid's sails during long weeks of hard practices, our kids have kept their focus and continued to push on with conditioning. On days here and there where our track surface has been clear, they are out there working hard and taking advantage of their time. I'm super proud of them for that, as some of those days outside the weather has been brutal."
Over in Wausaukee coaches had a few things to say about their feelings toward this delay.
"Mother Nature is a Beast!!" said Wausaukee head softball coach Sue Stoltenberg. "She has some tough claws this year and will not let go! But as of today we have missed 5 games and the rest of the week is scrubbed. The last time the weather was this uncooperative was in 2013, our first game was April 20th. We ended up 15-5 and lost in the Regional Final to Three Lakes. This season looks to be on par with that if not even worse."
Stoltentberg has gotten her girls outside, but just once. "We have been able to practice one time on our field, the rest of the time we have been confined to the gym with an occasional opportunity to hit some fly balls on the front lawn or the parking lot. Gym practice can get very old, but we do activities as a coaching staff to help keep the kids engaged and motivated. This years team has been working hard and anxiously awaiting the first game. It will probably be the case of getting right into a game. I really feel for the seniors on our team or any team in the conference for that matter. They have been waiting to be a senior leader on the field for 4 years, and now they are losing potential games. That has to be very frustrating for them, to have to hang around and wait to get outside to play. Spring in Wisconsin some years is great, some years, we get this. Softball will happen, and we will be ready,"said Stoltenberg.
So things are pushed back but the coaches and athletes will be ready, so cross your fingers and hope for spring.
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