First ice, now rain
Damp weather makes scheduling games a nightmare
In eight years as a sports writer I have never seen weather affect the spring sports season in the county like it has this year.
This is by far the busiest portion of the prep sports calendar with baseball, softball, tennis, and boys' soccer making for wall-to-wall coverage from opening day of high school on March 9 to graduation day the third week in May.
"I have seen seasons that have been real wet, but this is different because the ground freezes and thaws and when that happens it just never dries, when you step on it, you sink two inches down," said Danny Hollingsworth, who is the assistant coach for Marshall County High School softball and is the one-man field crew as well.
Hollingsworth has spent 25 years preparing baseball and softball fields in Lewisburg and has never seen anything like this in such a sustained amount of time.
"We have spent $600 so far on field-dry products just in the past couple of weeks and I am sure all the other schools in the county are spending money as well, trying to dry their fields and get these games played, but we can only do so much," said Hollingsworth.
These are all outdoors sports and the coaches depend on getting outside on the field to measure the progress of their squads.
"We have only had four days all year outside on the dirt, so it makes it hard on coach (Heather) Denton to make decisions on who is going to play where," said Hollingsworth.
You can only see so much indoors in the batting cage or working out in the weight room; it is on the field where players truly show what they have and that form of measurement is non-existent this year.
"We have 18 players on the team this year and now we have to gauge their progress on what they do inside, did she pay attention, did she listen, was she over there gossiping, so a lot of what we have seen inside will determine who is starting."
In February and the first week of March, the cold and ice cancelled school for a number of days and now comes the deluge of rain this week that will more than likely mean more postponements.
At Forrest, there have already been 21 postponements and none of the high school teams have played a game as of press time.
"It is a nightmare trying to coordinate transportation issues, rescheduling the games, contacting the media, getting the field in shape to play, and letting the parents know what's going on," said Forrest Athletic Director Scott Delk.
"We have been spending over an hour a day for the past month trying to reschedule all of these postponements."
Throughout the county, there are approximately 50 games scheduled this week for both the high school and middle school teams that will more than likely be washed out and have to be re-scheduled or cancelled completely.
"We are already eight games behind schedule and I see us playing on Saturdays and maybe even on Sunday if they let us," said Hollingsworth.
It's a nightmarish situation for administrators in rescheduling games, the various field crews that have an almost impossible task, and for the coaches, who have not had any sustained outside practice time.
"What we don't talk about is what it does to the girls, they are tired of practicing and doing drills, they want to get out and play," said Hollingsworth.
Delk stated that the middle school baseball season has already been extended by two weeks and many of the makeup games will be made up as part of doubleheaders and on in some cases, on Saturdays.
As time moves on, district games have to be played to determine post-season seeding, taking precedent over non-conference contests.
The Tennessee Scholastic Sports Athletic Association does permit teams to play on the weekends if both teams are in agreement, but Sunday games are a rarity.
"That is not something we usually see, playing Sunday games, but I expect a lot of Saturday makeup games, especially if it affects the district schedules," said Delk.