No fun! Spring weather means bunch of postponed games

You couldn’t blame the Warren County School District athletic directors if they asked for a little extra Tylenol or Advil in their Easter baskets this year.

After all, it is the spring sports season – along with its unpredictable weather, postponements, cancellations and reschedulings – that causes the majority of headaches for Warren’s Jeff White, Youngsville’s Joe Errett, Sheffield’s Corey Copley and Eisenhower’s Bill Vanatta.

After a horrendous 2011 in which 52 of the first 58 scheduled events were postponed, the athletic directors were given a brief reprieve in 2012. Through April 11 of last season, a total of 40 high school sporting events had taken place as scheduled.

Mother Nature hasn’t been as giving this year.

In 2013, only 18 events have been played and many of those are track & field meets where wet weather doesn’t always force postponement or boys tennis matches which can take advantage of indoor facilities both on the road and at the Lakewood Family YMCA.

When a game is postponed – as was the case with the entire slate of Thursday’s events – the athletic directors spring into action. In a perfect world, one athletic director calls another and the game is simply moved from Thursday to Friday, for example. However, the world of the athletic director is far from perfect and there are many factors that must be considered when rescheduling a postponed event.

“The process differs between away and home games,” said White. “If it’s an away game, you’re obviously in contact with the other school’s AD as well as the bus company, letting them know the game is off. We also need to make sure the buses will be available to drive the kids whenever the game is rescheduled.

“If it’s a home game, it’s a much more intense process. We’re still talking with the AD’s, but also need to inform the umpires the game is off. Then, we notify the signer of the umpires so that he can re-assign them for the rescheduled date. From there, I talk to my field guy so that he knows when the game will be made up and when we need the field ready to go. The parents and coaches all need contacted and so do the teachers so they know when kids will be leaving class. It’s a lot of time on the phone and a lot of time making sure everybody is on the same page.”

Whew!

And that’s just for one event. That doesn’t take into account other postponements for that school or the accumulated postponements of the opposition.

“It gets difficult sometimes, but you work with people and you try to work out what’s best for everybody involved,” said White.

Rescheduling isn’t easy in the fall or winter seasons, either. However, the spring season always seems to present its own set of challenges. In addition to the weather, the short duration of the spring season by comparison provides added difficulty. While the fall and winter seasons run for two to three months, the spring season has just six weeks between opening day and the start of the postseason.

“Some years you have good weather and everything goes smoothly, but this is not one of those years,” said Copley. “We can play doubleheaders to make up games quicker, but that’s at the coach’s discretion. A lot of teams may not like doing that if they only have good pitcher and don’t want to wear them out. The short amount of time to schedule makeups certainly affects your decisions.”

In 2011 – arguably the worst spring season in recent memory as far as weather is concerned – schedules had to be packed tight in order to finish games in time. That year, the Youngsville baseball team played five games in a seven-day stretch, the Warren softball team played six games in seven days and the Eisenhower softball team played on six consecutive days. 2013 hasn’t been quite that bad. Yet.

“We’re not even close to approaching how bad 2011 was,” said White. “If I’m recalling right, I changed like 35 events that season. It was awful. We rescheduled a Warren and Harbor Creek softball game four times before we got a day where it didn’t rain. It became a running joke between myself and (Harbor Creek AD) Andy Krahe.”

With so many postponements, the amount of days available to play can quickly diminish.

If days begin to run out, there are options that remain in order to satisfy requirements for postseason competition (i.e- completing all region games).

“We’re mandated by District 10 that we have to play our region games first,” said White. “Crossover games come next and then games with teams out of district or out of state. If time starts running out, we can drop those non-district games and it won’t affect our postseason at all.”

Given the lack of control one has over the weather, the spring season – and the buzz of activity it creates for athletic directors – can be a very trying process.

“I don’t know if frustration is the right word,” said Copley. “It’s just part of the job. You can wish for better weather, but you can’t do anything to change it so I don’t know that the word ‘frustrating’ fits. It’s not easy though. I can tell you that.”

It’s not just the athletic directors that are struggling with it either. Eisenhower baseball coach Jon Vincent’s team has been one of the most affected by the rash of horrible weather. Vincent said Wednesday that his team has had seven games postponed thus far in 2013. On Thursday, that number became eight when the Knights’ home game with Titusville was called off.

“It’s getting really frustrating,” said Vincent. “It seems like every nice day we don’t have a game scheduled and then when we do have a game, it rains or snows. I sympathize with the AD’s because it’s got to be very difficult keeping everyone in the loop. Especially with Mr. Vanatta at our school being a first year AD. I’m sure he’s ready to pull his hair out. But he’s constantly in contact with me and is doing a great job.

“I really feel bad for the kids as well. We have a great enthusiasm and the kids have been working so hard, but I can sense they are getting frustrated and really want to play a game.”

That frustration doesn’t look like it will end soon. Athletic directors appear to be in for another long couple of days on Friday and Saturday – at least judging by the forecast. Friday calls for a 70 percent chance of rain and Saturday’s high is only 44 degrees.

“It’s just something you try to get through,” said White. “As AD’s, we understand that spring is going to happen. You’re going to have changes and you’re going to have to find interesting ways to make sure you get all the games you need to play in the order you need to play them.

“It definitely can be stressful, but it can also be a lot of fun if you approach it in the right frame of mind.”