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Spring Sports Stuck Two Feet Deep
Snow has caused headaches for teams and administrators throughout Idaho this spring, with no relief in the short-term forecast.
Published: 3/13/2019 5:01:01 PM

Members of the Prairie High School track and field team enjoy the snow at a recent practice. 

Winter has arrived late for much of Idaho. So late that Sandpoint Athletic Director Kris Knowles was lamenting it from his house on March 12 because school had been canceled for the day due to the weather.

“I would say this year has been the heaviest late winter I have seen in 21 years of coaching and athletic administration,” Knowles said. “Last year was tough, but with all this late snow, I don't see us being on fields until mid-April.”

He’s not alone in that sentiment.

“We still have a foot of snow on the ground,” said Kellogg Athletic Director Mike LaFountaine. “It will be a while before any of North Idaho has outdoor sports.”

If that holds true, a lot of Idaho teams won’t have much time outside before district and state tournaments draw near.

“I work with regional AD's daily on schedules and working to make up games,” Knowles said. “Unfortunately, the last two years we have not had time to make up all scheduled games and events, and that most likely will be the case again this year. We all work together very well and try to do what is best for kids and keep them safe.”

And it’s not just the panhandle, though one Prairie High School coach quipped, “pretty much anywhere north of Cascade (near McCall, in District III) all looks the same.”

In Driggs, home of the 3A Teton Redskins, there are estimates that over two feet of snow remain on the school’s outdoor athletic facilities. Administrators are hopeful for a quick melt so the fields can be playable soon, but the eastern Idaho school has been through this before. Neither the baseball nor softball team currently has a home game scheduled before April 10.

“We hope to be able to go outside when we come back from Spring Break on March 29,” said Teton Athletic Director Brody Birch. “But that is optimistic. We have had seasons where we play zero home games.”

All of the coaches and administrators that spoke to praised its athletes and its coaches for making the best of a tough situation but, as Birch pointed out it, it’s more than the athletes and coaches.

“Schedule, cancel, reschedule, cancel, reschedule. [It’s] non-stop,” Birch said. “Every time you make a schedule change you are dealing with officials, transportation, coaches, kids, parents, et cetera. [It] kills a lot of time.”

Even schools that are used to dealing with snow say this spring has been a little tougher.

“We are used to starting with snow, but not this much,” Idaho City High School track and field coach Jason Roeber said, noting that his runners are able to do drills in the gym and in the school’s hallways, but added, “Our throwers have it the worst. We melted a patch of concrete so they can throw into the field, but then have to tromp out in the snow (which is over two feet deep), find their disc, and repeat.”

Roeber has 40 student-athletes on the high school team, which is the only spring sport offered by the 1A school northeast of Boise. Most of those competitors have been attempting to use the school’s lone gym to get some practice time in. Roeber also has to make room for the city’s junior high program as well, making for extremely crowded gym space. He says, in the past, his assistant coaches have taken kids snowshoeing to get them additional exercise and lessen overcrowding in the gym. Similar stories have been told by a lot of coaches and athletic directors.

“All our coaches do a great job of working together to get adequate practice time in,” Knowles said. “Baseball, softball, track and tennis all split time indoors at the high school and at our middle school. Our golf program holds practices at indoor facilities donated throughout our community. Obviously hitting into a net or taking ground balls on a gym floor can in no way simulate being outside, but they do their best.”

Through all the frustration of canceled contests, cramped facilities and jam-packed schedules, optimism remains high. Spring is coming and soon Idaho’s coaches, athletes, administrators and fans will be outside, enjoying the sun and nice weather.

‘We can’t wait to see some grass and actually run on a track, jump in pits, and throw in a ring,” Roeber said. “Kids still love it and we can still get a great workout in, it just takes some imagination.”



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