BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (March 4, 2014) — With all of the snow and cold it’s hard to believe that spring is just weeks away. It’s even harder to believe West Michigan schools are gearing up for baseball, softball, and track, to name a few sports.
This year’s harsh weather could be putting a strain on spring training.
Spring practice starts Monday, March 10th, for many high school sports teams. However, cold temperatures, snow-covered fields, and likely sloppy fields (once it all melts) threaten the schedule.
“They’re all concerns. We want to put kids in a safe environment when we put them out there to participate in sport,” Michael Van Hoven, Battle Creek Central High School athletic director, said.
Van Hoven said the weather came up on Monday when athletic directors from all over southwest Michigan met. It wasn’t just small talk. The intense winter weather, he believes, will affect all spring sports.
“We have girls’ soccer, girls’ tennis, we have both boys and girls track… and baseball and softball,” Van Hoven said.
Van Hoven said practice and conditioning normally starts inside in the gym, on an indoor track above the gym, and in the weight room.
He said this school is fortunate to have a field house with a duplicate set up to accommodate more sports. The concern is the transition outdoors for the sake of scheduling.
Van Hoven said, “Normally we get a few games in and some practices outside before spring break, it’s not looking like that will happen this year.”
He said track and tennis are in better shape. Those teams compete on hard surfaces that can be cleared off.
Field sports are not so fortunate with the potential for flooded fields.
There’s no telling when the scoreboard will light up, or when the stands will fill.
Van Hoven explained, “We want to play all the games, but if it came down to we got to pick and choose between a
conference game and a non-conference. We would play a conference game first.”
“That’s a where a kid gets there conference recognition.
“Sometimes you put the conference tournament, and the conference tournament and that’s how you come up with your league champion. So, it’s about recognizing our student athletes,” he said.
FOX 17 spoke with a representative of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. We’re told they’ve gotten calls from districts all over the state with the same concerns. Right now, the association is in a ‘wait and see period.’ As of now, no tournament dates will change.