Snowy winter may not cause feared setbacks
If you live in Minnesota and play a spring sport, you’re probably accustomed to practicing inside for the first few weeks of your season. And this year looked like it was going to be a whole lot worse.
In 2019, the Twin Cities experienced the snowiest February and fourth snowiest month in history. During the month, 39 inches of snow fell in Minneapolis which shattered the previous record of 26.5 inches set in 1962. During February 2019, there was more snowfall than the entire winters of 2016-17 (32 inches) and 2015-16 (36.7 inches).
Just like the athletes, coaches have also become accustomed to starting their season in mid-to-late April. And when coaches were interviewed during late-February, anxiety levels ran high.
“I think it is looking very much like last year,” said varsity baseball head coach Scott Glenn. “I think the spring sports will be forced inside until mid-April. This will cause a lot of rescheduled games, which will result in many games played in a short period of time.”
Other coaches are staying optimistic about the coming season.
Despite current conditions – forecasts called for a snowstorm today as this edition of The Talon went to press – a warm spring is on its way, which would cause the melting process to be completed faster than in previous years.
“It’s actually less about the total amount of snow on the ground right now,” said varsity track head coach Kristofor Sauer. “Having an earlier warming period and no new snowfalls go much further toward helping our practice and meet schedule. I’ve actually heard it’s supposed to be a warmer spring. I’m just hoping that’s true.”
Although it seemed grim, the track team has been able to get onto their track much sooner than they thought possible thanks to the Minnehaha grounds crew.
“This year we had someone plow our track so we were able to run on it [March 14], which is much earlier than last year,” said junior captain Annika Johnson. “I think last year it took a month until we were able to start running outside.”
Last year, between April 13 and 15, almost 15 inches of snow fell in the Twin Cities, cancelling another day of school at schools around the region, including Minnehaha.
One of the biggest factors for Minnehaha Academy spring sports teams is going to be the ice arena at South Campus. Now that the hockey season is over and no one else has rented the rink, it will be converted into an indoor practice field with turf and a batting cage for the baseball and softball teams.
“The ice started coming out on March 4th and we hope to have turf in there by March 15th,” said Glenn, who is also the arena manager at Minnehaha. “Teams that are interested in using the arena are baseball, softball, girls lacrosse, boys lacrosse and track.”
The arena isn’t the only facility at South Campus that can be used for practice. But with this many teams wanting to practice, there is a lot of discussion on who gets to use what and when. The head coaches of each of the sports met together to prepare for the scheduling nightmare that is to come.
“We share indoor facilities at the South Campus (upper gym, lower gym, and ice arena) with the other spring sports,” said Sauer. “Scott Glenn makes a Google doc and we all just plan accordingly.”
Although most of the snow has melted by now, there is still the question of the fields. All the melting and thawing has dumped a lot of water into the fields and some are better off than others.
“We’re super excited about baseball and softball because they are practicing already and are eligible to host games as soon as we start hosting,” said athletic director Josh Thurow. “Right now we’re taking it really slow and easy with our lacrosse-slash-soccer field up at North campus. The tennis court could be in a little bit better shape because we haven’t surfaced it yet, as that takes five straight days of nothing less than 50 degrees overnight. I can’t recall a better April in terms of how many teams are out on the fields practicing.”
Snow has always been a major factor in Minnesota at the start of the spring season. Coaches and players will always have to adapt and form their season around the weather. However, although this Spring looked like it was going to be much like the last with the amount of snow that fell in February, it has actually turned out that it will be the opposite.
Almost every sport began to practice outside on April 1, when classes resumed after Spring Break, which, although it was different for every sport, was significantly earlier than last year. It turns out the snowiest Minnesota February ever recorded wasn’t all it was chalked up to be.