Weather plays havoc with teams' schedules

The unexpected Arctic blast may have made anyone attending a spring high school sporting event Monday uncomfortably chilly.

But on the bright side, at least it was dry.

That is something that hasn't been true much of the past few weeks as the rains that have proven beneficial to Gwinnett County's lawns and lakes have played havoc with many spring sports schedules.

"You can't control Mother Nature," said Mike Emery, director of athletics, student activities and community schools for Gwinnett County Public Schools. "It's a mess, but on the other hand, we need the rain, and it will help the fields in the long run."

The weather has been bad news in the short term, however.

With all of the high schools' 11 spring sports - baseball, plus boys and girls offerings in soccer, track and field, tennis, golf and lacrosse - playing their individual competitions outdoors, pretty much every one of them has been affected, though some more than others.

For example, with several games having been wiped out either by rain itself or soggy fields left by the aftermath and with a limited amount of make-up dates available, Collins Hill's baseball team will be extremely busy the next two weeks.

Beginning with last Friday's Region 7-AAAAA game at Peachtree Ridge, the Eagles are in a stretch of seven games in 11 days. They are hardly alone, with four postponed games over the past two weeks still to be made up in just that region.

A schedule so loaded will definitely test the players' conditioning, especially the pitchers, though that isn't the only thing Collins Hill coach Paul Pierce worries about.

"I'm concerned about the kids' arms, but we'll take care of their arms," Pierce said. "I don't want to see anyone get hurt.

"I also worry about the kids' school work, since we're playing so many days. I worry about them getting enough sleep, since we play late in the afternoon and into the evening. I'm worried about all those issues. Mother Nature has beaten us all, but we're all in the same boat. ... We'll just take it one game at a time."

Getting two teams together for a suitable make-up date is enough of a problem for one game at a time, let alone several covering a number of different sports, and there are even more issues at play.

"One big thing is, you can agree to a make-up date with your opponent, but then you have to call the (officials' association)," North Gwinnett baseball coach Frank Vashaw said. "They might not have enough people to cover it."

Then there is the problem of simply finding transportation to get the visiting team to the game site.

In many cases, that means scheduling the use of county school buses, which Emery said isn't always as easy as it sounds.

"Our biggest concern is transportation," Emery said. "Most of the phone calls we've gotten is from the transportation department scheduling and rescheduling buses. ... It's a big puzzle that has to be worked out."

There are also scheduling issues that are unique to certain sports.

For instance, rescheduling regular season boys and girls golf matches isn't as important as it would be in other sports, though that lessened inconvenience comes at a price.

"Golf is really unusual, since the regular season means nothing. The seeds for the state tournament are all (determined by) the region tournament," Peachtree Ridge coach Bert Green said. "So it's not a big deal that all the regular-season matches get played. ... That's one of the differences from baseball or soccer or other sports. Football wouldn't be caught dead not playing all its region games.

"The only thing that bothers me is that the kids miss an opportunity to play. And (unlike some other sports) there's nothing we can really do (to practice) indoors."

While this week's weather forecast is considerably better than it has been, with the most significant chance for rain coming Friday, many long-range forecasts call for more rain next week.

Emery said the county, schools and individual teams will just have to do the best they can to dodge the precipitation and get the games in.

"The good thing about this is that schools, coaches and (athletics directors) have all been working in a coordinated effort with each other and with the transportation department to try to make things work," Emery said. "It's really been a team effort."