By Stephen Knoll
It hasn’t quite been the hot start to the spring sports season that people were expecting, it has actually been quite the opposite.
Most fields are still buried under a foot or two of snow and even after it melts the conditions aren’t going to be game ready for some time.
While postponements and delays are nothing new to high school sports, the sheer amount of them are causing headaches across the state.
Athletic directors have been meeting recently to try and figure out how to best proceed with the season in their respective conferences.
Ryan Spaulding, athletic director at Seymour, met with other ADs in the Bay conference to try and work out where they go from here.
“Things have obviously been a little different this year,” Spaulding said.
Cancelling games in the spring is nothing new with frost, snow, and rain often factors in field conditions, but the amount of cancellations has never been seen before.
“One athletic director said he’d seen a worse year once before, but I’m not sure if anyone believed him,” Spaulding said.
Schools have had to be more flexible in their scheduling and availability of facilities to help make sure games can be played even if it is moved to a neutral site when the host and opposing team’s facilities aren’t ready.
Rescheduling isn’t as simple as finding a place to play though as Spaulding says one of the hardest parts is umpire availability.
The new conference schedule is different for each team, but the seasons have been obviously condensed.
“They are so anxious to just start playing,” Shiocton softball coach Dawn Kanaman said. “We are used to not being able to get on a field before we play an actual game but I don’t recall ever going this long without playing a game.”
Some sports will face off against conference opponents once during the season while others will face off in tournament style matches to decide conference champion.
“We are trying to fit in as many games as we can as safely as we can, but there’s a lot of moving parts to it,” Spaulding said.
Teams are taking it in stride though with many coaches focusing on the lesson of ‘controlling what they can control’ and using the time for team building.
“Certainly we prepare to compete in games, and cannot wait until the sun is shining and we are outside playing again, but until that time we are learning how to keep grinding and get better at the game of baseball and become better teammates to each other,” Seymour baseball coach Curtis Jefson said.
Coaches have had to work with each other to balance out time spent in the gym as training time is limited, but players are still excited to get things going.
“We are planning a team snow removal practice this Saturday to clear our field. I have one player who’s been driving around with a shovel in her car all week just waiting to get out there,” Kanaman said.
A condensed schedule also means less time for teams to prepare for playoffs, making each game more important.
“There is no impact on the playoff schedule. It condenses the regular season and the number of days available to play,” director of communications for the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Todd Clark said.
Clark said the WIAA has little input on the schedules, leaving those decisions up to the schools themselves.
With just over a month of available time to play and compete springs sports will be here and gone in a flash.
By Stephen Knoll