Teams deal with postponed events
By Greg Seubert
A weekend snowstorm that dropped more than 2 feet of snow on the Waupaca area in mid-April is history, but it’s still taking a toll on high school athletes and coaches.
Take the Waupaca baseball team, for example.
The Comets were originally scheduled to play 11 of the their 25 games through April 21, including eight North Eastern Conference contests with Clintonville, Fox Valley Lutheran, Freedom and Little Chute.
As of April 22, however, the team only had three games in the books, a season-opening win over Weyauwega-Fremont and a doubleheader sweep of FVL played one day before the storm hit on April 13.
“As you can imagine, it has not been easy,” coach Rocky Mondello said. “Frustrating, in fact. It was one thing before the storm to not be able to get out there because of residual snow, but 2 feet after that really threw a wrench in things.”
In the meantime, Mondello’s players are dealing with no games and indoor practices.
“The players have been great,” he said. “They are focused and by keeping them in the loop and changing things up and making it fun, they haven’t complained once. We went bowling (April 18) instead of practicing inside again and that was great. The boys put away 20 pizzas and were looking for more, so we had to close the kitchen.
“I’m reminding them that we will be ready when the time comes and odds are the next time we get outside, it will be for a game,” he added. “Either way, I feel that we’re ready to compete at all three levels. With the (conference athletic directors) meeting and the new schedule being released (April 19), this will help plan practices and provide some light at the end of this igloo tunnel.”
The Comets were able to schedule a varsity game against Stevens Point at 4 p.m. Monday, April 21, at the Woodside Sports Complex, an all-turf facility in Mauston.
Meanwhile, the Waupaca boys’ golf team had its first three meets postponed.
“My golfers are disappointed that they are not able to play,” coach Tom Noltner said. “It is taking a toll on them with all the cancellations because in reality, they know we can’t make all of the matches up.”
The Comet’s first five conference meets, as well as an invitational in Wautoma, have been postponed.
“We are staying as positive as we can by chipping and taking full swings in the nets in the gym with our allotted time,” Noltner said. “We are preparing ourselves the best we can physically and mentally so when we do get out on the course, our golf game is at the highest level it can be. We know once we start to play matches, there will be little room for error. We look forward to get onto any course to play.”
The Waupaca track team hosted Seymour, Shawano and Clintonville April 12 and competed in a handful of indoor meets, but has had several outdoor meets canceled.
One of them, the Waupaca County Meet, was originally scheduled for April 21 at Comet Field and has been rescheduled for Saturday, April 28. The annual meet also includes teams from Iola-Scandinavia, Weyauwega-Fremont, Manawa, New London, Clintonville and Marion.
“We are looking at the recent storm as a set of opportunities,” girls’ coach Joel Kempfert said. “The first of these is the opportunity to heal up. Often times, the early season is stressful on bodies. The recent storm has caused the cancellation or postponement of a number of our meets. At this time, we have a handful of girls that have some injuries of varying degrees. They are using this delay as a chance to get back to full strength before we get back into competition.”
Kempfert, boys’ coach Neil Sternweis and the program’s assistant coaches are working closely with athletic trainer Cassie Glodowski and the athletes to work on the healing process.
“I think that it is mentally better for these athletes, since they know that they are not missing out on competitions,” Kempfert said. “Another opportunity that the team is taking advantage of is the ability to grow as a team. Usually, by this time of the year, much of our practice time is spent working on specific areas development for the individual events. The recent weather has forced us back into our early-season routines, which hold us together longer as a single unit.
“The team has responded very well in this area,” he said. “A number of our leaders have really stepped up and helped to keep spirits high throughout the team. A final opportunity that we are trying to capitalize upon is our development as a coaching staff. Any time that we are faced with challenges, we try hard to improve our own abilities. The inclement weather just provides us with a greater chance to improve and adjust. We are used to coaching through difficult weather. The recent storm has just increased the length of the situation, so we are working hard to keep practices worthwhile and still motivating.”
The Iola-Scandinavia softball team, which has played only one game so far this season, was originally scheduled to host Bonduel April 19 for a Central Wisconsin Conference East Division matchup.
Instead, the Thunderbirds spent that afternoon practicing in the Iola-Scandinavia Community Fitness & Aquatic Center gym.
Coach Tom Anderson has dealt with inclement weather in his 26 seasons as the team’s coach, but doesn’t recall a start like this.
The T-Birds played their first four games last year on a trip to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida, while the 2016 season began with a game at Wautoma played in a snowstorm with temperatures in the 30s.
While Anderson’s team practiced inside, the T-Birds’ home field, along with its dugouts and bleachers, were covered with more than a foot of snow.
He knows his team probably won’t be able to play 20-plus games on its original schedule, but is open to adding some games, even if it means traveling to southern Wisconsin.
Pacelli, another team in the CWC, was able to schedule a doubleheader at Belmont, a community near the Wisconsin/Illinois border.
In the meantime, Mondello is looking forward to upcoming games.
“The other spring coaches here in Waupaca have been very cooperative sharing gym space and trying to accommodate other programs,” he said. “We just kind of laugh it off and help each other out. It’s spring sports in Wisconsin.”