Athletic directors deal with weather woes

Billy Conklin slides safely into second base during the season.
Billy Conklin slides safely into second base during the season.

REED CITY — It’s no secret the weatherman and local high school athletic directors haven’t been the best of friends lately.

It’s also no secret why.

It was complicated enough for ADs during the winter with ice and snowstorms and having to postpone events and reschedule them. It was too risky for athletes, spectators and others to get to the events.

Getting to events isn’t the problem during the spring, obviously. But since all events are outdoors, being able to play is another matter.

Ironically, this is the second half of the regular season for most sports. With postseason action, most of the sports will have their seasons end in four weeks or less. But May is loaded with makeup dates from now through Memorial Day, and a few days beyond this.

A lot of events will be played in upcoming weeks.

Weather-permitting, of course.

“This spring has been difficult for us at Reed City, like most other places around the state,” Coyote athletic director Kurt Grangood said. “However, we have been able to move game or events into open dates, or change the location of the game. It has not been too tricky of a process to reschedule, early on. However, I just let the spring coaches know this week that non conference cancellation will most likely be lost from here to the end of the season.”

It’s his first year as an AD, but Grangood has been a coach and sports writer in the past.

“I believe the past 5-to-10 years, the spring in Michigan has been very difficult,” Grangood said. “The weather has been unpredictable. It is a chaotic and frustrating as a player, coach, AD and parent. The biggest issue we have had, and I have experienced in the past, is moving practices back into the gym.”

Pine River athletic director Shawn Ruppert knows the feeling.

“We have been fortunate in our scheduling for varsity softball and baseball,” Ruppert said. “We’ve gotten a majority of our games in. We’ve played in a lot of cold weather, but we’ve played. Our junior varsity and middle teams have missed the most games. Along with our varsity track teams, they were scheduled on the ‘wrong’ days and I’ve had to cancel some of their meets.

“We are doing OK with our make-up dates but it has been a challenge. The kids get tired of practicing inside and having events rescheduled, but it’s part of the give-and-take of living in Northern Michigan. In my opinion, the benefits of living here far outweigh the minor inconveniences of rescheduling spring athletics.”

Evart AD Jay Wallace concurs.

“The weather has influenced all of the sports,” Wallace said. “The challenge with pitch count limitations (in baseball) and having to get in conference games makes filling a schedule difficult. When we are dealing with the cold and especially the younger levels many times, it boils down to not just the experience of playing, but making it a quality experience. It is hard to concentrate and coach athletes that are more worried about staying warm.

“All the schools are in the same boat. Everyone works together to do what we can do for each other.  An obstacle that continues to get worse is the availability of umpires. Some days it is impossible to find officials. Last year was bad, but when you are looking at snow on the fields, it makes playing a definitive no. This year, we keep thinking we can get a game or meet in and the rain and cold come in.”