September 16, 2014

Medina
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58°F

School athletic departments swamped due to rainy weather

Rainy weather has  left parts of Black River’s Dorothy Chapman Field under water. Below, a baseball sits in the middle of the waterlogged Black River baseball field. The Pirates lead the county with  92 prep sports events being postponed or canceled this spring. (AARON JOSEFCZYK / GAZETTE)

Rainy weather has left parts of Black River’s Dorothy Chapman Field under water. Below, a baseball sits in the middle of the waterlogged Black River baseball field. The Pirates lead the county with 92 prep sports events being postponed or canceled this spring. (AARON JOSEFCZYK / GAZETTE)

For people like Buckeye athletic director Glen Reisner, there are three seasons: Fall, winter and monsoon season.

While the veteran AD was joking, this year’s spring sports season has been anything but a dream for the seven Medina County athletic directors and their secretaries.

(AARON JOSEFCZYK / GAZETTE)

(AARON JOSEFCZYK / GAZETTE)

So far, 8.7 inches of rain has fallen in April and May. That has made it extremely tough for schools to make sure sports like baseball, softball, lacrosse, boys tennis and track go off without a hitch.

In fact, Reisner thinks this spring has been tougher than 2011, when 388 sporting events in the county were canceled just in the month of April.

His thoughts have merit, as a combined 538 events have been canceled or postponed between Black River, Brunswick, Buckeye, Cloverleaf, Highland, Medina and Wadsworth.

“We had just as much rain three years ago, but we had longer periods of time to reschedule,” Reisner said. “It’s just the scheduling and rescheduling. The hardest part is not getting enough games in.

“My freshman teams are devastated the most. The jayvee games get bumped around. You’d like to have the kids get their games in. These kids expect to play 27 games and you want to get them in. For what they pay to participate ($395), it’s like, ‘Wow.’”

The fact Buckeye is the low school on the totem pole in the county with 57 cancelations/postponements shows just how hectic scheduling can be.

Black River athletic director Josh Calame feels Reisner’s pain, as an area-high 92 events at his school have been affected by the weather. The fact the Pirates don’t have freshman teams or lacrosse and tennis shows just how much the school has been hit by the elements.

Rescheduling takes much more than a phone call or two, as umpires and officials, transportation departments, trainers, maintenance workers, parents, players and coaches from both schools all have to be on the same page.

While social media has helped a bit with parents, it’s still a zoo once Mother Nature gets involved.

“This is as bad as I can imagine it being,” Calame said. “Being a former softball coach, I know what the spring sports season can be, but I never imagined it being like this. I looked at my phone one day and I made 40 phone calls in two and a half hours.”

It’s not just the athletic directors, either, as secretaries are worth their weight in gold in the spring.

Brunswick, which has had 80 cancellations/postponements, has a three-person staff of Judy Stupka, Debbie Skeens and Cheryn Caso helping AD Pete DeMonte make sure things go as planned.

“I can tell you this has been extremely challenging,” Stupka said. “You have to make sure you get ahold of everybody. Then you not only have to coordinate with the coaches, you have to reschedule games around the (conference) games that have to be fit in.

“It could take a whole day to try to get everything rescheduled, and then it could start all over again the next day. It takes all of us to get everything handled.”

Sometimes it can take even longer. Rainstorms have popped up at 2 p.m., just as seniors leave for early dismissal at some schools. Those athletes need to be contacted as well as everyone else involved.

Medina athletic secretary Jill Miller sends out emails to the media and others, but won’t leave her desk until she knows everyone has been contacted. The Bees have had 90 events postponed or canceled this season and expect more.

Retirement might be drawing near for outgoing Highland secretary Terry Pollock, but 88 postponed or canceled events have led to some long days.

“You don’t even want to hear a phone ring when you get home,” Pollock said. “You don’t want to think about it, but you wake up in the middle of the night and you’re thinking, ‘Is it going to rain tomorrow?’ That’s just not me. It is athletic directors and secretaries. I’m sure the bus garage, coaches and everyone else is thinking it, too. We’re all on the same page.”

The shrinking opportunity to play is concerning as postseason games need to get in.

In 2011, Brecksville and Medina had to wait eight days before playing a sectional opener in softball. By the time the Barberton Division I District was over, four rounds were essentially played in five days to determine a winner. That winner had one day off before playing a regional game.

While that scenario hasn’t happened yet this year, there’s worry down the road. This week hasn’t been kind to playoff baseball and softball. Officials also have to work around prom and other extracurricular events, and that can get hairy.

“You start to run out of days to reschedule games,” Stupka said. “We were just talking about that the other day. I know there is a big concern here because we haven’t played our first tournament game in softball (a game that has been postponed twice).”

Contact Brad Bournival at sports@medina-gazette.com.