Finally! Spring sports season arrives
It seems the horrific, historic winter weather has released its icy grip on Minnesota and the spring sports season is finally underway.
In Kimball, Eden Valley-Watkins and across the state, athletic directors have been scrambling to adjust to deal with Mother Nature’s April fool’s joke.
Bruce Holmseth, in his sixth season as athletic director in Kimball, has kept a positive attitude even as his winter wardrobe got some overtime this year.
“Basically you just have to work your way through it and take in one day and one game at a time,” Holmseth said with a classic sports cliché.
And for Eden Valley-Watkins A.D. Dave Schneider, what a baptism to the job. This is Schneider’s first year at the helm and “it’s been a little bit hectic,” he admits.
“I think we had something like 60 games and events scheduled that either had to be postponed or cancelled.”
Athletic directors across the state gathered last week and came out with a new, condensed plan. In fact, Holmseth was able to schedule a varsity baseball and softball game for last Friday even though there was some snow scattered around the field, mostly in some outfield areas.
Weather permitting, the season will begin to heat up in earnest this week, pun intended.
“From the kids’ and coaches’ standpoint, the frustrating thing has been practicing indoors for so long. Last year they had one indoor practice and then got outside. This year, we were just about there and then we got those snowstorms that really set things back,” Holmseth said.
The challenge for staff was to be able to schedule a time and facility for all the various varsity and junior varsity sports to practice. At Kimball, for instance, junior high practices were confined to a little more than an hour and then the varsity took over. And keep in mind workouts were limited because you can’t catch fly balls or practice sliding into home indoors.
All the while, athletic directors were postponing, rescheduling and watching the skies and thermometers.
“Some events changed two or three times,” Holmseth said adding that he and area athletic directors met for three straight weeks coming up with Plans B, C and D.
And it’s not just athletic directors, coaches and players that need to be figured into the mix when it comes to scheduling. Support staff such as custodians, bus drivers and umpires also need to be lined up. For varsity sports, that means dealing with an officiating association. For junior varsity, it means finding local people who are willing to put on the zebra stripes.
Said Schneider: “There were a lot of e-mails and phone calls that had to be made. I have a checklist and for each team, there are 11 different things that need to be coordinated.” Everything from umpires and bus companies to scoreboard operators has to be taken care of.
Holmseth and Schneider are happy that a full varsity conference schedule will be played for baseball and softball. Mondays and Thursdays will see teams playing double headers of six innings each, instead of seven, to accommodate pitchers, primarily. The backup dates for those games, if inclement weather were to strike, would be Tuesdays and Fridays.
The golf teams, representing both Kimball and Eden Valley-Watkins, is a different story. To conserve transportation costs, Kimball athletes practice in Kimball and EV-W golfers practice in their school. About four times they were able to join forces and travel to Avon where an indoor facility provided them space for driving, a putting green and even a sand trap.
And the Kimball track team has been able to participate in some indoor meets and had its first outdoor meet last Thursday.
Now, it’s keep your fingers crossed and watch the skies.
“A rainy week could really mess things up,” Schneider said. “I think we have three weeks left to get everything in. But everyone is in the same boat.”
Athletic directors, coaches and players just hope that boat doesn’t become an ark.
The entire spring sport’s schedule is posted on the respective school websites.