Weather conditions, game postponements create rescheduling challenges for ADs

OSCEOLA COUNTY — When severe weather conditions hit the area, school officials are frequently on call, determining whether or not there will be classes as scheduled.

Athletic directors are also on the spot as they need to determine the status of their schedules.

“The challenge of rescheduling games is starting to heat up,” Pine River athletic director Aaron Schab said on Monday. “We had one cheer competition and two wrestling tournaments cancelled this past Saturday. Otherwise we have one boys basketball game that was canceled and will be played this Saturday.

“I am not sure if we are quite to the point that we were last winter, but we have a good seven weeks left of winter sports. Last winter season seemed like we had snow days every week so I am hoping we are through the worst of the weather. Last spring was a nightmare as well.”

Right now, the winter season is creating challenges galore.

“This seems a little bit worse this early,” said Evart AD Randy Kruse. “It’s boom, boom, boom, boom. It’s mid-January and we’ve had four cancellations. It’s unusual  to have four or five during the year but to have four this early is unusual.”

Other athletic directors agree.

“It’s a pain,” Reed City athletic director Kris Griffin said regarding cancelling and rescheduling sporting events. “Some of the guidelines are the same for cancelling sporting events and school, but it really depends on the roads and the weather. We look at safety first.”

While all schools handle things differently, most look for similar signs and factors when considering the cancellation of an athletic event.

“It’s tough to call sports on temperature,” Griffin said after calling off a Reed City girls game at Lakeview last week. “Cold is a challenge. Schools can be closed for snow or cold, but that doesn’t necessarily apply to sporting events. But if it’s super cold and feels like less than 20 below outside, it’s tough. We want to make sure it’s safe outside for both schools.”

The protocol and the timeline has minor differences between schools depending on size, but the process is basically the same for postponing extracurricular events on days with no school.

“We talk to the superintendent, the coaches and other athletic directors and our principal, Monty Price, who used to be our athletic director,” Griffin said. “I was on the phone with Lakeview’s AD at 8 a.m. (Monday) morning (Jan. 6) talking about whether we would play or not. We say we’ll have a decision at noon, but we like to know before that for the parents and officials, especially because we don’t have transportation for sports, it’s all parents. We try to post the information on our school webpage as soon as we know.”

One of the biggest challenges that goes with the whole process is rescheduling games.

“For us the biggest challenge is rescheduling games. The reschedule shuffle is tough,” Griffin said. “We struggle with gym availability and it’s tough because we can only play three games per week for the MHSAA and our conference is so spread out. Our conference games are the ones we give priority when we try to reschedule.”

“You try to give them the full slate of games and try to schedule it,” Kruse said. “Sometimes you can’t find a date. But all of ours are rescheduled.”

Every week from now on involves two games for the basketball teams, Kruse noted, making ADs hopeful that no more postponements will be forthcoming.

“This week the girls will play three because of next Saturday,” Kruse said. “The boys have  another couple where they’ll play three those weeks. That’s all we have left.”

Evart is among the schools that cancels games and practices the day that a regularly schedule school day is cancelled.

“It’s a school rule, each school has their own rule,” Kruse said. “If you’re saying you’re not going to have school because of the weather, then it’s kind of crazy to say we trust people to come in (from a safety standpoint)...for games, but not for the regular day.”

Evart still has usually been able to reschedule its events.

“You’re hoping both schools have the date open,” Kruse said.

Pine River does it differently.

“We do not have a policy that restricts us from playing in the event that school is cancelled,” Schab said. “Often the roads are cleared and safer to travel by late afternoon, so we have played games at night when school was closed that day. With the possibility of winter storms at any time, I like to play contests on their original date if at all possible.”

Herald-Review sports writer Daine Pavloski contributed to this report.