Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Leandro Rodriguez of Concord High School attempts to put Victor Flores of Goshen High School into a hold during a wrestling meet at Concord High School on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. High school sports schedules have been disrupted by weather problems. (Jon Garcia/The Elkhart Truth)

Jimtown sophomore Shawntel James brings the ball downcourt. Goshen girls' basketball defeated Jimtown 36-28 at a game in Jimtown on Friday, Jan. 24 2014. High school sports schedules have been disrupted by weather problems. (James Buck/The Elkhart Truth) (Buy this photo)

Elkhart Central junior Erik Huang competes in the 200-yard individual medley event during the IHSAA boys swimming and diving sectional finals Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, at Concord High School. High school sports schedules have been disrupted by weather problems. (Truth Photo By Ryan Dorgan) (Truth Photo By Ryan Dorgan, File)
Area athletic directors work to stay one step ahead of the winter weather

Posted on Jan. 28, 2014 at 2:44 p.m.

A landline phone in one hand and a cell phone in the other, high school athletic directors have been doing their best to not get beaten by the Polar Vortex.

As of Tuesday, Jan. 28, Elkhart Central, Elkhart Memorial, Concord and Jimtown had all accumulated seven snow days while the number of postponements, cancellations and other juggling acts continued to mount.

"It's pretty goofy," says Concord AD Dave Preheim of a pace that had him up at 6 a.m. Monday, Jan. 27, working the phones and his computer from home almost non-stop.

While scrambling to reschedule events of other sports, Preheim was kept hopping while communicating with the other athletic directors in the eight-member Northern Lakes Conference (Memorial, Goshen, Northridge, NorthWood, Wawasee, Plymouth and Warsaw are the other members) before it was decided that the meet would be canceled. Reasons included not only the weather and travel conditions, but the proximity to sectionals (Saturday, Feb. 1) and the lack of time to train and make weight.

Jacquie Rost, in her first year as AD at Elkhart Memorial, chose to see a silver lining in all the madness.

"It's preparation for spring," said Rost. "That's what I'm telling myself.

"I've also been forced to have a lot of communication with all the athletic directors. I see that everyone is frustrated. It's not just me because I'm new."

Weather-related cancellations also came for wrestling tournaments in the Northern State Conference at Jimtown and the Northeast Corner Conference at Westview and Fairfield.

"Sometimes it's very stressful," said Nate Dean, who serves as Jimtown's director of athletics and activities and its transportation director.

Dean was on the phone Monday getting a consensus from NSC athletic directors about wrestling.

It's a puzzle that must have all its pieces.

"If one school can't come for a make-up, you can't have it," said Dean.

An unintended consequence of cancellation is that some wrestlers may not reach their minimum number of weigh-ins to be certified at a certain weight for sectionals.

Rost noted that IHSAA assistant commissioner sent a note to all sectional host sites (Memorial is one) that urged them to do everything in their power to get the sectional in Saturday, even if that means a late start.

Dean has also had to cancel two girls basketball games for Jimtown (vs. Fairfield and Central Noble).

As of Monday, the winter weather and the calendar had already cost Concord a girls basketball game (vs. West Noble) and a boys/girls swim meet (vs. Mishawaka).

"The sand is falling through the hourglass pretty quickly," said Preheim. "We are getting down to the point of bumping non-conference for conference. That usually only happens in spring with baseball and softball."

At Memorial, a girls basketball game against non-conference foe Penn was canceled in favor of a make-up game against NLC opponent Warsaw. The Crimson Chargers were still looking to reschedule contests against Gary West and Bowman Academy.

When a varsity athletic event is canceled, there is a domino effect.

Athletic departments not only have to reschedule the contest, they have to line up all the support staff for that date.

Central AD Brian Buckley estimates that it takes between 15 and 20 volunteers to host a varsity boys or girls basketball game, counting the game officials, scorekeeper, scoreboard operator, ticket sellers and ticket takers and parking lot attendants.

"Things can get interesting," said Buckley, who found himself as the only person in the school Tuesday morning. During a normal school day, there are usually almost 1,900 people, including students, teachers and others.

Buckley is aware of the cabin fever among the Blue Blazers.

"The kids are antsy," said Buckley. "They'd rather be here practicing."

But as a safety measure, Central athletes are not allowed to walk to school on days where class is canceled.

In those cases where there is practice but no school and the school corporation does not provide transportation, athletes are not penalized for missing practice.

"We do not want to put any of our kids at risk," said Buckley. "One practice is not going to make or break a championship."