Poor weather causing problems for spring sports

Evart’s boys track team works out in sleet during a recent practice. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

BIG RAPIDS — The last few weeks have been a nightmare for area athletic directors.

It hasn’t been any easier on coaches, athletes, parents and fans.

Scheduling sports in spring weather has always been a challenge but especially this year with unusually cold, wintry weather in the first two weeks of April.

Forecasts call for warmer weather later this week, but teams will still have challenges of getting their fields in playable shape.

Practices have been limited to indoors. But now, in mid-April, teams are hoping to get back to a regular schedule, if the weather cooperates.

“It’s been a huge disruption as most teams have been practicing inside for weeks without any games or meets,” Big Rapids athletic director Dawn Thompson said. “It’s difficult to manage gym time with so many teams needing the space. Instead of being outside practicing, we have teams in the gym until 9:30 p.m or later each night. We have already cancelled everything early in the week and hope to get to outside later this week.”

Thompson isn’t likely to forget the spring of 2018 for a long time;

“This is my third year as the AD, but in my 19 years as a teacher/coach at Big Rapids, I cannot remember a spring where it was so difficult to get outside to practice, play games, or participate in meets,” she said. “There are not enough dates to make-up all games/meets so the goal will be to focus on conference games/meets first and fill in when we can with nonconference events.”

Crossroads athletic director Kevin Sankey concurs.

“We have only played one softball and girls varsity soccer date this spring,” he said. “Everything else has been cancelled including (Monday’s) games. With the weather that came in over the weekend, I hope we can get some games in by the end of the week.

This is my third year as an athletic director and I’ve never seen weather like this for spring sports.  We expect to not get games in before spring break, but this is crazy. There isn’t enough dates to get in a full season for spring.

Morley Stanwood coach Clark Huntey has also been exceptionally busy.

“Morley Stanwood baseball and softball games scheduled for (Tuesday) with Lakeview have been cancelled,” Huntey said. “No rescheduled date has been set yet. The track meet scheduled with Lakeview for (Tuesday) has been cancelled. It’s rescheduled for Thursday.”

Reed City athletic director Kris Griffin called off events on Monday.

“This weather has been a huge disruption to our spring schedule,” she said. “We have played limited games and our kids have been forced to practice inside the majority of the season so far. Obviously, this has an impact on our teams.  We have already cancelled several games for this week and I don’t anticipate being able to consider having anything until the end of the week. Friday looks better, but we are not sure if we could have our fields ready by then. They are going to be extremely wet.

“This is my fifth year as AD and it is by far the worst that I have experienced. Dates for a full season-realistically there is not. Completing our league schedule will be our top priority. Spring always presents some problems as there are dates that we can’t schedule games because of other school events-graduation, baccalaureate, senior trip, senior awards dinner, and our band concert. These are very important events to our kids so we need to work around them. We will definitely have games that will not be rescheduled.”

Griffin acknowledged the forecast for next week’s weather is favorable.

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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