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Ty's Take: Slow melt means sports forced to scramble

Just last week I wrote a Ty's Take column that included important dates and times for this year's spring sports schedule. "Timely information," I thought, whilst typing it up.

You can ignore it.

If you haven't noticed, and regardless of what the calendar says (is it really April?) winter has yet to release his stubborn, clammy grip. Spring has not sprung, and doesn't look like it will anytime soon. Maybe by the Fargo Marathon on May 21? We can only hope.

With snow and ice blanketing the landscape for God knows how much longer, area athletic directors were forced to make some changes; namely, postponing a majority of the spring sports season for another week.

Last Thursday, West Fargo Athletic Director Curt Jones sent out the following e-mail:

"All outdoor spring athletic events scheduled to be played at the home sites of the West Fargo and Fargo public schools have been cancelled through the date of April 10, 2011. The EDC and region events will be rescheduled. The non-conference events will remain cancelled."

And what's worse? Jones isn't too hopeful about the week after that.

"Right now, we're not very optimistic about April 11-16, either," he said.

Jones and other area ADs met twice last week to discuss problems with the weather and the current spring sports schedule. The common consensus was that a first priority will be getting in as many conference games as possible and forgoing nonconference events, if necessary.

"It likely will come down to taking nonconference matchups and bouncing some, or most, so we can get our regions to play," Jones said.

So while the Packers might not get in as many state-wide competitions, they'll at least get a good grip on their Eastern Dakota Conference counterparts.

Other options?

If the best-case scenario is that sports kick off in two weeks, what's the worst case?

"I don't know if I want to think about that," Jones said, with a laugh.

There really aren't that many options for athletes and teams who are stuck waiting for spring. Sure, baseball team might be able to practice groundballs in a high school hallway, and soccer players can work on dribbling up the gymnasium floor. But games and matches inside just don't work.

This even is true for track and field, which recently completed its indoor season.

"But Tyler," you may ask. "If they have an indoor season, why can't they just substitute some more indoor meets for outdoor ones?"

"It's not that easy," Jones said.

The outdoors season involves throwing events, such as javelin, and relays that just don't work as well indoors. Plus, Jones said, there's the difficulty of actually finding a place to use, never mind paying for it.

Even if workers were able to shovel off playing fields for immediate use, they still wouldn't be usable.

"You need the ground to thaw, too," Jones said. Frozen dirt doesn't bode well for the long-jump pit, or for getting tripped up and crashing during a sprint down a soccer field.

But all may not be total doom and gloom. Jones did have some possible positive news for baseball and softball involving our neighbors to the north.

"One thing we did consider is Grand Forks has a turf field," Jones said, which would clear faster than regular dirt. Trucking players up to Kraft Field for games might help alleviate some scheduling claustrophobia.

Grand Forks officials aren't entirely certain on the option, however, as they say there still is a thick layer of snow and ice at Kraft, Jones said.

Another scenario would be lumping games together. In 2009, many teams were forced to resort to more double-headers for dates original scheduled as single games.

"Fargo North, Fargo South, West Fargo, Shanley and Davies play a lot of single games, so we'll have to do double-headers to free up some dates and create some scheduling pockets," Jones said. "Right now, schedules are fairly tight."

The really sad part about all of this is that this screwed up spring is almost starting to become old hat.

"It was the same deal in 2009 as it is now," Jones said. "Every other spring, this is going to be there; this is going to be more normal than the exception."