Soggy showers bring a case of spring sports sours to everyone

Published on: 4/9/2013

Whitefish Bay girls soccer coach Robert Williams has an artificial turf field but has yet to be able to get a game in, while Homestead soccer coach Rich Dorn took his youthful team north to De Pere where the Highlanders won two games on an artificial turf field.

Meanwhile, Homestead softball coach Dave Keel is begging for a dry field on which to play.

'I've been at this for close to 30 years,' Keel said, 'and I have not seen anything like this. We've had 28 scheduled days (practice and game dates) and we have yet to have a full day of practice outside.'

And that is just a sample of the lousy state of affairs in the spring prep sports world so far, as the endless winter and the shoulder-high snow didn't disappear until last week (you can still see it some spots) and then after that occurs, comes this week of endless rain.

Anything with ground or grass attached to it started being canceled through Friday as of Tuesday.

Among the victims of that trend is Nicolet softball coach Brad Kuehl and his team as Kuehl was counting on getting a nonconference game in on Friday with Brookfield Central as his team's only action of the week ('We had games scheduled every day this week,' he said), only to have that game postponed later in the day by the host Lancers.

'At this rate, we may never play,' Kuehl said.

At least that game was rescheduled. Many coaches and athletic directors are cutting their losses and are flat out canceling nonconference events in order to give the maximum opportunity to league contests in the short spring season.

This week's rain was scheduled to last through Thursday with a wintry mix and a high of 37 scheduled for that day.

Can the softball players swing their bats with winter jackets on and how effective are soccer players kicking the ball with snow boots on?

'We've been able to get outside for a few days and we do have a bit of an advantage over other schools (with Bay's artificial turf field),' Williams said, 'but it is still very interesting. We're so young (a lot of sophomores on the roster), we could use some steady work, but everyone is in the same boat, I guess.'

Dorn at Homestead, however, took advantage of some fortuitous scheduling and went up to De Pere, where his impossibly young team (11 freshmen on the roster) scored impressive wins over Racine Prairie (6-1) and West De Pere (2-0).

That makes Homestead one of the few teams in the area that got some games in without having to go out-of-state to do it.

'For my purposes we're just fine,' Dorn said. 'It can be trying at times, but we've found we can sometimes get more done in the field house. The communication level there is certainly better than it is outside sometimes.'

The Highlanders have another artificial turf-based tournament in Kenosha Tremper this weekend.

Rescheduling for everything everywhere has been under way for several weeks, as softball teams had games on the docket in March. Last year, with the balmy temperatures that prevailed all March and the light precipitation, outside practices were easy and cancellations relatively few.

'I think we practiced inside all of two days last year,' Kuehl said.

In short, what a difference a year makes. This was also the first big week of outdoor track meets, with some Tuesday and Wednesday casualties already. Mercifully, because of staggered spring break schedules among the schools, both the North Shore and the Woodland have their indoor meets this week.

If there wasn't any flooding, those events should have gotten in.

And don't ask about tennis or golf yet.

It is reported that golf courses are holding everyone off, including the preps and the weekend duffers until the grass can grow a little bit (conference meets are scheduled to start within a few days if possible), but it'll be a little difficult when everyone's drive plugs an inch deep into the mud and the actual holes themselves are burbling over with water.

Anyone for tennis?

At least there are some indoor facilities and clubs that some schools can avail themselves of, but not everyone has access to them or the budgetary wherewithal to finance the price.

'It's just wet, wet and then wetter,' Keel said. 'We'll see what happens.'