For spring sports, weather conditions pose an ongoing battle
March 7, 2013
Craig — As February turned to March, snow still covered most of Craig. It's an annual reality, and headache, for some spring sports teams at Moffat County High School.
Several spring sports already have had their first competition of the season or have it coming up quickly, but the teams can't prepare the way they'd like to given the weather conditions outside. For athletes and coaches in baseball, girls soccer, track and field and girls golf, the name of the game is simply making do until the weather takes a decided turn toward spring.
Yampa Valley Golf Course, where the girls golf team will eventually practice, is covered in snow, forcing the Lady Bulldogs to practice inside the gym at East Elementary School. There is no working on driving the ball or getting a feel for those bigger clubs when practicing inside the gym, so the girls have to simply focus on their swings with the irons and their putters.
"We just work on techniques in the gym," golf coach Ann Marie Roberts said. "We work on chipping and putting, and we work on feel, getting a feel for the clubs. We just do the best we can."
Roberts said it is an unfortunate situation to be in, but there is nothing the Bulldogs can do about it. Short of the girls golf season being moved to the fall, they are stuck.
Hers is a sentiment shared by other spring sports coaches. Baseball coach Justin Folley gets his players working in the batting cages in the high school gym and they do some throwing, but there is no substitution for practicing outside in the sun and on grass, he said.
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"We work with what we have," Folley said. "On sunny days like (Wednesday), if I can get out into a parking lot and hit some fly balls and ground balls, we do that."
The girls soccer team practiced in the Craig Middle School gym Wednesday, working on fundamentals like dribbling and shooting. But the hard floor and smaller confines make it difficult to simulate what the girls will encounter in a game.
"It's frustrating because grass is totally different than a hard surface," girls soccer coach Harry Tripp said. "The ball moves faster. A soccer field is so big compared to a gym. You can't work on positions or passing."
To compensate, some coaches have travelled for practice on the weekends. Last Saturday, Tripp said some of the soccer team went to Rifle to get practice time on an actual field, with cleats. Folley and the baseball players have gone to Grand Junction in the past.
While the basketball teams' success in Moffat County is something the spring coaches are excited about, it also has complicated their practices. Now at least four sports are hoping for gym time at the high school, and some student-athletes who typically would be practicing with their springs sports by now instead are focused on the regional playoffs this weekend.
"I'm proud of those guys for getting where they are," Folley said about the boys and girls basketball teams. "That's huge for that program. But it is kind of detrimental for us."
The coaches agreed the weather creates a disadvantage for their programs, especially at the beginning of the season. However, they said their players are able to catch up pretty quickly after the snow melts.
"They're outside and hitting off grass while we're hitting off mats," Roberts said about golf teams at other schools. "That's a big difference. But I think we have some good golfers."
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.