2018-04-19 / Sports

Say it ain’t snow!

Weather woes lead to scheduling, officiating concerns
By Jay Bushen
Sports Editor

MOTHER NATURE’S mean streak continued last week as 20 of Leelanau County’s 22 spring sports events were called off due to inclement weather. MOTHER NATURE’S mean streak continued last week as 20 of Leelanau County’s 22 spring sports events were called off due to inclement weather. Cabin Fever: Spring sports still on hold for 13 of 14 county teams

Doug Periard has been coaching baseball since 1994 — and he’s never seen anything quite like this.

“Never,” said Periard, who is also the athletic director at Suttons Bay. “Never have we had this happen this late. I remember having a snow day after spring break and losing out on games ... but not like this.”

Periard on Monday was among the Northwest Conference athletic directors attending a meeting at the Flap Jack Shack in Traverse City.

The primary concern, especially for area baseball and softball programs, is the availability of umpires in an expedited regular season. The prospect of squeezing all games in at the varsity, JV and middle-school levels seems unrealistic at this point, Periard said.

“It happens every year,” he said, “but this year is going to be worse.”

The lingering winter may also affect conference competition and postseason play, Periard said. New pitch-count regulations in a bunched-up schedule may cause issues for smaller programs.

Lake Leelanau St. Mary baseball coach Dewey Painter is well aware. His team has just eight regular-season events left on its original schedule.

“Latest start that I can remember,” Painter said. “We have a number of young players that need game experience. This type of spring just slows the progression of getting better.”

The late start has also made an impact on Leelanau County’s trio of girls soccer teams.

Just ask Leland coach Joe Burda.

“It’s rough,” Burda said. “Spirits have been pretty good, but (we have) 28 girls in the gym and it seems smaller every practice. You know you are going to be in the gym for some time when we start, but after this long it becomes frustrating. Conditioning and touch stuff is great, but there are not a lot of other things we can simulate.”

Golfers can simulate some aspects of their game indoors, and all three peninsula programs take advantage, but it could be weeks before area courses are ready for competition.

Track athletes may be looking at a shorter timeline but, as Glen Lake boys coach Jason Bradford pointed out, they’ll have to hit their stride in a hurry.

“Downstate, teams are getting some track meets in,” Bradford said. “When you look at when our regional is, you start to see a big disadvantage.”

The regional is slated for May 19.

Regardless, it seems county coaches, athletes and athletic directors face an uphill battle in the coming weeks.

“You have no idea,” Glen Lake Athletic Director Jen Johnston said via text. “My head is spinning.”

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