Richard Wildenhaus, Moffat County High School athletic director, said he receives numerous questions from community members when it comes to canceling sporting events, especially those in the spring.
He hopes to answer some of those questions.
Wildenhaus said there are a number of issues he considers before making a decision.
“There are a number of issues we take into consideration before we cancel games,” Wildenhaus said. “I get a lot of people who ask why we cancel games or what thought process goes into canceling a game.”
The primary consideration, Wildenhaus said, is the safety of players from both MCHS and the opposing school.
“The main thing we look at is the safety of all the players in the game,” he said. “Especially in the winter weather and the snow, it can be difficult to play and we don’t want any injuries.”
The second item taken into consideration, Wildenhaus said, is the field conditions.
Usually with soccer or baseball, if the field is un-playable or the field may be torn up from play, the game can be called off, he said.
“Soccer teams can’t play if the ball is covered in snow and baseball teams can’t play if the ball is popped into the outfield and sticks,” he said. “We also have to consider if playing will tear up the field because for soccer, we use the city’s field.”
On Tuesday, the MCHS girls soccer games at home against Eagle Valley were cancelled at 11 a.m., because of a snow covered field. By 4 p.m., when the varsity game was supposed to start, the snow had melted and the field may have been playable.
Wildenhaus said he has to consider the travel plans of both the opposing school and officials for the contest.
“On Tuesday, Eagle Valley was going to leave their school at 11 a.m.,” he said. “We didn’t want the students to miss school or for everyone to drive two hours here and turn around and drive two hours back without playing a game because we cancelled at the last minute.”
As for officials, Wildenhaus said as soon as the hired officials get into their vehicle to come to the game, the school has to pay them in full, even if the game is not played. In addition, the school would have to pay the officials again for a make-up game.
“It costs the school about $200 to pay officials for the varsity and junior varsity soccer games,” he said. “We are not in a financial situation to pay officials twice because we cancelled the game after they were already headed to the field.”
When games require rescheduling, Wildenhaus said he checks with the other school, officials and coaches to make sure the dates work.
One of the main goals is to avoid having a team play too many games in a week, he said.
“While the final call on canceling and rescheduling a game rests on my shoulders, I check with all the coaches and many others before I make the call,” Wildenhaus said. “We don’t want our athletes tired, burnt out, or in a situation where they can be hurt.”
Harry Tripp, the MCHS girls varsity soccer coach, said cancelled games have a huge impact on his team.
“Because of the weather, we already don’t get to practice outside a lot,” he said. “In a game, I can see what the girls are doing and tweak it in practice.
“If we don’t play games, we don’t get to see that.”
Still, Tripp said he understands when it comes to cancelled games.
“I usually leave it up to Richie,” he said. “Some days we try to clear the snow off the field, but we play on the field for free and we don’t want to mess it up.”
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