April 02, 2020

Weather woes ice high school squads> Eastern Maine athletic directors forced to reschedule games for third straight day

The recent onslaught of ice has wreaked havoc with the roads and sidewalks, but it’s also causing chaos for high school athletic directors, some of whom may have three days of games and meets to reschedule by the end of the week.

In the past three days, 52 games and meets have been reported as postponed, some of which were rescheduled games from previous days.

Not only has the schedule become jumbled, but the weather has had other repercussions for ADs, such as finding officials and rescheduling buses.

And then there’s the issue for the student-athletes of playing a series of back-to-back games and missing practices.

The girls basketball game between Old Town and Lawrence of Fairfield was set Tuesday, reset for Wednesday and is now rescheduled for later in the month. That may be good for the Indians, because they are scheduled to play Orono Thursday night. If Thursday’s weather predictions are on target, that game may not go off, either.

“Now we have to play three games in a row, back to back to back,” Old Town athletic director and girls basketball coach Garry Spencer said. “But as an athletic director, you have to realize that it can’t be helped.”

According to Spencer, schools have a two-week period in which they can make up games.

As the possibility of playing two or three games in a row looms for many teams, conditioning becomes important, Spencer said.

“When you have to play back-to-back like this, you have to be in shape,” he said.

For athletes ready to play, the wait can be hard. To eliminate the lethargy of days without games, coaches can schedule an optional practice. The Old Town girls practiced early Wednesday.

“Timetables get messed up,” Spencer said. “The kids tend to stay up late and wake up late, so body clocks get messed up and they haven’t had a chance to adjust.”

The John Bapst boys basketball team, which was supposed to play at Ellsworth on Wednesday, had one hour of practice at noon.

“We went hard today in case there’s no school tomorrow,” said John Bapst center Mike Mathien, who spent part of Tuesday sledding. “If we miss a day [coach Bob Cimbollek] tries to get our legs back in practice.”

Referee rescheduling can get as messy as the roads.

John Rogers, the officials assigner for Washington County, said the problem this week has been the postponement of rescheduled games. Several schools set bumped-up games for Wednesday, which then had to be rescheduled.

Athletic directors planned a little better for the rest of the week, with several schools deciding not to reschedule postponed games for Thursday.

“I worked all [Tuesday] night for Wednesday and I’ll work all Wednesday night for this weekend,” Rogers said.

The system Rogers has used for five years works well, he said. Instead of him calling 20 to 30 officials each night, the athletic directors call the referees, who then call him. The athletic directors call him to reschedule. Friday, Rogers said, is already full.

At Machias, a boys game against Shead of Eastport scheduled for Tuesday and rescheduled for Wednesday was postponed again.

“Three games in a week is already a tough schedule,” said Machias principal Jamie Weggler. “Now we’ll have several games in a row. It’s definitely a disadvantage. It takes a lot out of you.”

Weggler said the athletic director doesn’t always cancel games if school is out for the day.

“We usually decide between 1 and 2 p.m.,” Weggler said. “Safety is No. 1 and we’d rather err on the side of safety.”

Among the scheduling phone calls athletic directors have to make, Weggler said the school can spend hours tracking down opposing coaches, clock operators and booster club members who sell tickets and concessions at games.

Houlton High School athletic director Wayne Quint said Aroostook County teams haven’t been affected by the weather because the county got more snow than ice. Most of those schools have stayed open.

He will, however, have to reschedule two events from Wednesday – a boys game against Stearns of Millinocket that was supposed to be played at Houlton and a girls games that was set for Millinocket.

“The problem arises for us when the traveling team can’t come,” Quint said. “But we’ve been in school and we’ve been fine. This is our only makeup so far.”

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