Winter weather causing scheduling problems for high school sports

Baldwin athletic director Scott Pedigo (right) and boys basketball coach Robert Waktins share a lighter moment earlier in the season. But for both men and their counterparts in area school districts, the winter weather has caused problems with rescheduling games and practices. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — The last two weeks have been challenging, to say the league, for area high school athletic directors.

The regular seasons for sports are nearing an end but ADs have scrambling around to reschedule games and matches.

Ice wind and snowstorms and not necessarily in this area, has put a crimp on rescheduling games and practices.

Even some events which were rescheduled have had to be reset again. On Friday, there were no local prep sports events.

All athletic directors will acknowledge it has not been a fun stretch.

Games with Newaygo at Big Rapids were cancelled for Friday night and will be made up on Monday, Feb. 18. Big Rapids will have to cancel the Cadillac games that evening to get in the league games.

“It’s been very challenging to fit all of the games in while getting workers and officials rescheduled for the events,” Big Rapids athletic director Dawn Thompson said. “We will not be able to make up freshmen boys/JV girls/JV boys basketball vs. Newaygo, ad freshmen boys’ basketball vs. Whitehall, or Freshmen/JV/Varsity boys basketball at Cadillac.

“I do not recall a time in my 20 years at BRPS where we had such an issue with weather that created this much havoc on the school day schedule and athletic events. Our first priority is student safety and we are doing our best in making all decisions in regards to games and practices. The weather has definitely impacted teams and their ability to practice. On some days we have cancelled all practices due to the weather and other days practices have been optional, and only students who are able to make it in were able to attend.”

Weather cancellations impact many people.

“I’m thankful our community has been understanding and flexible while dealing with multiple cancellations,” Thompson said. “Our hope is the weather will improve and we can get back to our normal school schedule as we miss seeing our students on a daily basis.”

Morley Stanwood athletic director Clark Huntey agrees.

“This has been a challenging year with weather,” Huntey said. “At this point of the season, I am running out of dates. I’m at the point that I will have to start cancelling nonleague games to play league games if weather continues.

“This is the worst it’s been in a few years. It’s worst because it’s been constant. In most years you may deal with one or maybe two days a week; this year, its been 10 straight days. It absolutely has an impact on practices. By far, this is the most I’ve ever cancelled practices due to weather.  Our middle school players have practiced once in the last 10 days and are expected to play games on Saturday.”

Huntey noted it’s not an area issue.

“The weather has covered pretty much the entire state; so every school has been impacted with the weather,” he said. “Everyone is in the same boat with trying to practice and play games.”

“This has been tough due to the timing of the weather,” Baldwin athletic director Scott Pedigo said. “Practice time has been hard on the coaches and players. I think not having a varsity girls team (due to low numbers) has made things easier. 

“But the team that has been hurt the most is my junior high girls. They have missed multiple dates. They have only played three of their games with next week originally being the end of their season. We may have to extend their season a week to get their games in.”

Crossroads athletic director Kevin Sankey knows the feeling.

“This winter has been very challenging in all of the cancelled games and trying to find available dates to reschedule,” Sankey said. “So far we have been able to get all of our high school games rescheduled. We are still working on rescheduling some middle school games. This winter is worse than last year and reminds me of last years spring weather issues and cancellations. Yes, it’s had a big impact on team’s practicing. Last week our teams didn’t practice because of the weather and have been very limited this week.”

It’s been an educational experience, of sorts, for Reed City athletic director Kurt Grangood.

“It has been a challenge to first, make the decision to cancel and find dates to reschedule, especially now that it is February and the season is ending soon,” he said. “However, all of us are in the same situation. The area ADs have been easy to work with. At this point, we have lost only one JV basketball date and a nonconference wresting meet. This is my first real AD job, not sure. However, as a former part time newspaper writer, I believe 2014-15 season was the same if not a bit worse. The winter was long and cold, several of the area boys’ and girls’ basketball teams only played 17 to 20 games.

“I believe it has impacted our teams. The daily routines that are established during the season, getting up, going to class, and having a solid practice, have been disrupted by the weather. It has been hard to get full team practices, which effects conditioning, and causes a lack of focus on many levels. I believe the Reed City coaches have done a great job with the players, being flexible, cancelling when it is needed, and keeping the overall team morale, positive. The athletes themselves, have shown great maturity in handling the stop-and-go schedule. (It’s challenging for) parents too, as they rearrange family time and schedules to support their kid.”

Chippewa Hills athletic director Michael Forsberg agrees.

“It’s been very challenging, but everyone else is in the same boat as us,” Forsberg said. “Keeping kids safe is always the best bet. All the other ADs have been great to work with and coaches have been very understanding. We will attempt to get as many games in as possible, starting with varsity league games being the priority. Our JV and middle school games will not get a full schedule in.

“As a new AD, it’s been a very steep learning curve but other ADs have been very understanding and helpful. We have had very few days where school was closed and we still practice. As crazy as these last few weeks have been, our parents, coaches and athletes have been very patient and understanding and I thank them for that.”

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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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