By Brad Bournival
A sign sits affixed to the window of the Highland athletic department that simply says, “Rain, rain go away.”
While it’s a playful little message, it’s one that typified the month of April in Northeast Ohio.
The rainiest April on record — 6.75 inches fell in 30 days — was a living nightmare for the seven Medina County athletic directors and their secretaries.
An exorbitant 388 sporting events were either canceled or postponed in the area last month, making things more than just a little hectic.
Medina had 62 cancellations/postponements, leaving athletic director Jeff Harrison and secretary Jill Miller with some sore ears and raspy throats.
“I’ll tell you one thing, the month flew by because every day you’re constantly making changes,” Harrison said. “People think, ‘Oh, games got canceled.’ But for every game there are four or five phone calls and five or six e-mails that need to be sent out.
“Then you immediately start making calls for the next day to see when you can make the games up. You can’t miss anybody along the line. Multiply 62 by four or five phone calls and five or six e-mails. The secretaries take the brunt of it. This time of year, those secretaries are worth their weight in gold.”
Those secretaries team with their athletic directors to call umpires and officials, transportation and maintenance departments, parents, players and coaches from both schools and trainers to make sure everyone is on the same page.
One Saturday softball game last month caused Black River athletic director Bruce Lorincz to make 22 phone calls before he was finished.
After that, it’s a matter of rescheduling games without upsetting the balance of league contests and other extracurricular activities.
“There was a day where games were on again, off again, on again, off again and all we did was watch the weather before finally canceling everything,” Highland athletic secretary Terry Pollock said.
“Between making all the calls, making sure the buses know, calling other coaches and letting officials know, you can go an entire day and do nothing but reschedule.
“Spring might have the fewest sports, but athletic secretaries go home exhausted when it’s like this.”
While the advent of Facebook and Twitter has helped schools along the way, there’s still the daunting task of making sure media outlets know things have changed.
Add to that making sure officials can man games on such short notice and things get even more dicey.
Gordy White, who has been a baseball umpire for 27 years, appreciates the hard work involved by all.
The Clinton resident and OWE teacher at Barberton High School lost over $300 in supplemental income last month because of rainouts and drove to a handful of games only to turn around and go home.
“All day you wait to see if you’re still on and you make as many phone calls as you can,” said White, a longtime member of the Summit Umpires Association. “It can get frustrating, but you can’t blame it on anyone. It’s just part of the system.”
After all the rescheduling is taken care of, the rat’s nest continues as athletic directors look to fill open practice times.
Rainy days equal workouts in the gym, and with three baseball teams and two softball squads needing space, the onus falls on the AD to make sure everyone can get in the necessary time.
“It becomes a juggling act,” Harrison said. “In this day and age, not all coaches are in the building, so you have to make sure they know what’s going on.
“You have to give credit to spring coaches. They never know when or where they’ll play.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.