Sprinting to Spring
Manchester's high school Spring athletes wish: Snow, snow go away
MANCHESTER — Manchester Memorial High track and field coach Tom Lynch was in San Diego, last weekend for the NCAA Men's Basketball West Regional, where the temperature was in the high 60s. On the flight home, he had visions of a snow-covered Chabot-McDonough Field.
"I remember telling someone that if we couldn't go outdoors, we would have had 60 kids jammed in the hallways at Memorial just getting some type of workout in," he said.
On Tuesday, the temperature in Manchester was in the mid-30s, but a northerly breeze made it feel in the low 20s. But that didn't stop Lynch's runners from practicing outdoors — some of them in shorts, including senior George Shiepe."The weather is not a big deal to me," said Shiepe, an 800-meter specialist. "I'm aware of the cold temperatures. I'd rather wear loose clothing like shorts. I want to be able to breathe in my cloths."
Shiepe said whenever it becomes too cold to train outside, he works out at home on his treadmill.
Junior teammate Davis Clark, who specializes in the 3,200 meters, said the cold weather affects him.
"It's been a tough winter — lot of snow this year," he said. "I'm completely the opposite of George. I'm always wearing warm clothing in this type of weather."
Lynch, now in his sixth year as head coach after serving 14 seasons as an assistant, said he's always mindful of injuries occuring in the cold weather.
"The longer and harder we go in the cold weather, the chance of getting a muscle pull increases," he said. "That's particularly the case for the sprinters and short-distance runners. Until we get warmer weather, right now we're not going all out. We usually hold practice for two hours, but because of the cold weather, we're practicing for about 75 minutes."
A walk back toward Memorial's Bronstein Gym revealed a snow-covered infield on the baseball field. What had some folks, who were walking their dogs past the field, chuckling was that the bases were still on the field from last year.
"I guess someone forgot to take them out," said one man.
In the gymnasium, Memorial softball coach Erin Reilly had her team running in place and doing sprints across the basketball court.
"Like most schools, we're in the gym doing the best we can," said Reilly. "This is our second practice and we're evaluating our players because we make our final cuts. It's hard for everyone to do this in the gym. We can't hit pop-ups, and we have to use a softer ball for grounders. Even when we throw up little pop-ups, the lights in the ceiling are proving to be an obstacle."
Senior first baseman Lejla Kosic said starting the season indoors is par for the course.
"It's difficult, especially for any first-year player," said Kosic. "But you have to adapt until the weather warms up and allows you to be outdoors."
Sophomore teammate Heather Mak said she knew what to expect after experiencing cold weather last year.
"You just have to work on your conditioning, endurance and build up your strength," said Mak. "We can still throw the ball around indoors and work on our fundamentals."
Across the city at the Charles Quinn Gym, senior West HIgh baseball player Tres Beeson said his team was forced to use a Whiffle ball for batting practice indoors.
"It's tough being indoors," said Beeson. "You can't hit or take regular infield like you can outdoors."
On Wednesday, the baseball team was scheduled to practice outdoors on the football field.
Piscataquog Field is still closed to the public because of snow and many puddles surrounding the soccer and baseball fields.
"On the football field, we'll at least be able to take batting practice and field grounders and fly balls," said Beeson. "It's better than being indoors, that's for sure."
On Tuesday, Manchester West track and field coach Leo Ducharme said his team was able to run two miles around the Millyard.
"Everyone (in the state) is in the same boat as we are," said Ducharme. "As long as we're indoors, we can't really do many event workouts. We can do some things in the building like hurdles, but we're limited in what we can do."
Junior Hannah Avard, a team captain who competes in the hurdles, sprints and long jump, said the Millyard run was the first time she and her teammates ran outside since last November.
"It was good to be outdoors," she said. "Indoors in March, after awhile, you really tend to get bored because you really want to be outdoors."
Good news is coming on the weather front. The forecast has temperatures in the 50s Friday and high 40s for most of next week. It's not exactly San Diego weather, but good enough to get outdoors.
In the north country, Colebrook Academy athletic director Buddy Trask said there's still two feet of snow on the ground in his area. "It's a way of life around here, but I would rank this winter as one of the worst ones, maybe in the top three. I mean we haven't had any warming trend at all this month."
Trask said his baseball and softball programs usually don't host games until the last week in April. "We always open our season playing our first two or three games on the road. Having said that, we're opening this season on the road against Profile (Bethlehem), Lin-Wood (Lincoln) and Littleton. I'm sure right now they're not in better shape than we are."
Still, Trask said the northern programs tend to adjust their spring schedules.
"We're resilient," he said. "In years past we've scheduled doubleheaders just to get our 16 regular season games played and if we have to, we'll do it again this year. It's a way of life around here and we're use to it."