The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 14, 2013

Winter-like weather leaves area teams in a jam

By Chad Courrier
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — Cancellations and postponements of spring sports are nothing new for high-school athletic directors.

But this year ... come on, man.

Mankato East activities director Todd Waterbury tried to remember how many events he had to reschedule last spring, and though he didn’t have an exact number, he’s probably about to reach that amount already.

“If we don’t get something in next week, that probably will be the case,” he said.

Last year, the snow was gone early, and spring teams practiced and played outdoors almost immediately. This season, teams have been practicing for about a month, and very few have yet to get in a game.

Mankato Loyola activities director John Landkamer, who also coaches the baseball team, said his squad has only gone outside three times to practice. None of the varsity athletes in any sport at Loyola has competed outdoors yet this spring.

“A lot depends on the next couple of days,” Landkamer said. “If we can’t get going next week, we’ll have some decisions to make.”

There have been a few indoor track meets, but those are designed to jump-start the outdoor season. The benefits of those will will be lost by the time track teams get outdoors.

Some tennis teams were able to get in a match last week, but those courts are now unplayable. A few baseball and softball teams were lucky enough to have games scheduled Monday, April 8, the nicest day of spring so far.

Mankato West activities director Ken Essay said the toughest thing about this spring is that no one knows when outdoor events will begin.

“Usually in the spring, you have a rainout, but you know in a couple days, the fields will be ready to use,” he said. “We just have no idea when we’ll be allowed to get on the fields.”

All three ADs said they remain hopeful that each team will get a full season, though for baseball and softball, everyone will be forced to play on the same days, possibly creating a shortage of officials. Doubleheaders likely will be the norm, and there are rules for how many innings a baseball pitcher can go in three-day spans.

Golf teams probably will be affected the most. By the time area courses open, members aren’t going to be as willing to give up additional days on their home track so that high schools can reschedule lost meets.

“Some teams are going to be playing four, maybe five times a week,” Essay said. “We’re going to have to be creative.”

This week becomes crucial, they said. If events are lost this week, there likely won’t be any opportunity for makeups. Conference events will take priority over nonconference events.

There’s also an issue with missed school time. If teams are playing four days each week, there will be some days when kids will have to leave school early. There are spring concerts already scheduled, and athletic teams usually don’t mess with those dates.

“We’re going to have to do our due diligence with each sport, and do what’s best for the kids,” Waterbury said.