Being seven weeks into the spring season, four weeks away from playoffs and having had more than 100 weather-related postponements among the middle school and high school spring activities in each district has activities directors, coaches and players across the state nervous.
Forest Lake Activities Director Joel Olson said the question is no longer how they can fit a whole season in, but how many games will be played at all?
For the Suburban East Conference, no sport has gone unaffected. To date, more than 700 high school sporting events have been postponed or canceled statewide.
Olson and other SEC activities directors met last week to decide on a course of action to restructure the conference’s spring schedules across the board, namely, baseball and softball.
The directors decided to change the first two rounds of regular season play into double-headers to make up previously postponed contests. The solution would have panned out, that is, until the snowstorm on Monday that caused more postponements this week.
The Ranger softball team, which would usually play 20 games in the regular season, hopes to fit in 15 after Monday’s wacky weather. Just this week, the Forest Lake sluggers canceled contests against White Bear Lake, Woodbury and East Ridge, the latter of which were double-headers to compensate for earlier missed games.
Ranger softball head coach Angie Ryan said the delays are beginning to take a toll on her athletes mentally after seven weeks of indoor practice.
“We’ve been talking a lot about controlling what we can control, and that’s something we’ve been saying for years in the program,” Ryan said. “The first five weeks the girls did a good job of handling it pretty well and making sure we’re still getting better everyday, but last week I could see a little lack of focus. I think just knowing when the first game is going to be will help a lot.”
Once the games start rolling, however, Ryan is concerned with keeping her team healthy and prepared for each game, and with good reason. Starting next week against Cretin-Derham Hall on Monday, weather permitting, the Rangers are scheduled for 11 games in just nine school days. With two pitchers already on the mend with injuries, the head coach worries about keeping her pitching staff and starting lineup off the disabled list.
“I’m just nervous about injuries, I’m nervous about keeping the kids out until 7:30 every night and then expect them to be fresh the next day and ready to go again,” Ryan said.
Teams across the board are adjusting. Tennis head coach Greg Patchin said he feels bad for how much his players have shoveled the courts already this year.
“The guys have been great, because whether it’s 30-degree windchill we’ll go out in hats and caps and hit,” Patchin said. “But I just can’t in good faith ask the kids to shovel anymore. They have just been troopers, and it’s really not fair for them anymore, so we’re just going to let nature take its course.”
Olson said the priority in rescheduling are the turf sports like baseball, softball and lacrosse due to the difficulty in controlling the field saturation and finding enough officials to cover the onslaught of makeup games to come.
“Track should be fine, tennis can take care of itself, but we may have a situation coming up on Saturday where it’s clear skies and a beautiful spring day and we can’t play because the field is so saturated with water,” Olson said.
The activities director said he’ll be relieved when there won’t be anymore juggling of practices, games and officials for the 10 Forest Lake spring sports.
“I’ve talked to retired and veteran AD’s and they all say the same thing — this is the worst it’s ever been,” Olson said. “In the past, you may have a cool spring, but never a year where we couldn’t even get out and get started. This is the worst I’ve ever seen it.”