Jon Holtz has been teaching his third-grade students about the weather and its affect on people.
As the girls tennis coach at Elkhorn High School, it's a situation he knows all too well.
This month, the Antlers have had more time shoveling (seven) their courts than practicing (twice) on them.
“We call it conditioning,” he said.
Holtz keeps a sense of humor about a snowy and cold March because his schedule just started this week. The Storm open Thursday at Omaha Skutt after Tuesday's dual with Lincoln Pius X was postponed.
Talk to other coaches and athletic directors, and it's been a frustrating spring.
“These last couple of weeks have been trying on everybody's patience level,” Pius Athletic Director Tim Aylward said.
His gym and many others have been booked until 9 at night with spring sports jostling for practice space because it's been either too cold, snowy or wet to practice outside.
Don't even ask about games.
“It's to the point where they are trying to reschedule rescheduled games already,” said Jim Angele, the assistant director for the Nebraska School Activities Association who oversees baseball. “We have schools that haven't played a single game yet.”
Angele said through Monday, 27 varsity baseball games had been played while 137 had been postponed or canceled.
Multiply that by track and field, soccer, golf and tennis at the varsity, junior varsity and freshman levels, and it's been a nightmare for administrators.
Omaha Burke Athletic Director Kyle Rohrig estimates that he's canceled at least six soccer games and more than 15 baseball games. The Bulldog track team hasn't had a meet, the tennis team hasn't had a dual and golf hasn't had an invitational. A busy spring has become even busier as he works with coaches on scheduling practices and makeup games.
In just a few hours Tuesday morning, Angele had received eight emails about baseball postponements.
“I would say this has been the worst spring weather I've ever experienced as an A.D.,” Rohrig said.
Athletes are downright antsy to get out and play. Coaches, too.
Millard North baseball coach Dave Cork removed snow and worked on the Mustangs' field Tuesday in hopes of hosting Omaha Benson on Thursday. Mud is the enemy, so he planned to rake the dirt first and then scratch it up so that the sun could work its magic on the base paths.
The weather should cooperate, at least for the next few days.
Tom Kines, meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc., The World-Herald's private weather consultant, said wet conditions could return next week. Rain and snow are possible Monday and Tuesday.
That wasn't good news to Cork, who's stopped watching the weather reports because it's become a dismal experience.
“I told the kids I've tried for years to control the weather, but I can't do it,” he said.
Another factor has been the calendar. The spring season started March 14, the earliest possible start date. Next year, the start date falls back to March 20.
If it does get rainy again next week, an already busy month will get even crazier. April is when the majority of games and meets are held before state tournaments in May. Junior varsity and freshman teams could be hurt the most, forced to yield fields in order to get varsity contests played.
There's also the added headache of scheduling umpires, ticket takers, concession workers and grounds crews.
Athletic performances also are likely to be affected. As Angele pointed out, it's hard to replicate that throw from deep shortstop to first base in a gym. Or work on judging fly balls.
George O'Boyle, the track and field coach at Pius for 49 years, has held practices outdoors no matter the weather. He's made sure his athletes dress warmly and has cut practices when it's been especially brutal outside.
Don't expect great track and field marks early like last year, O'Boyle said, when Nebraska experienced record temperatures in March. Sprinters run best when it's warm.
“We probably will see the really good times in the end of April,” he said. “That's really when, hopefully, it will be warm by then.”
Angele hates to say it, because of the drought, but what teams need is a dry April to get in as many games as possible.
“We need some sunshine,” he said, “and we need some springtime.”
Chaos for college teams, too
The weather hasn't been good for college teams, either.
The Creighton baseball team has had nine games affected by poor weather conditions.
The Bluejay softball team has had seven games postponed or canceled due to weather. Creighton last played March 16 at Evansville. This weekend's series at Northern Iowa was moved to Omaha.
Nebraska's baseball team has canceled, postponed or moved three games.
The NU and UNO softball teams have had so many schedule changes that they're letting fans in free for Wednesday's 5 p.m. game in Lincoln. The contest, originally set for UNO's field, had been scheduled for March 12 and then moved to Tuesday before changing again.
The Huskers have had nine games affected by weather, including last weekend's series against Northwestern, which was shortened from three games to two.
The Mavericks' home series with North Dakota State and Fort Wayne were canceled and aren't likely to be made up, reducing UNO's Summit League slate from 24 games to 18.
The UNO baseball team has had three games moved and the second game of a doubleheader with Northern Colorado cut short because of snow when players couldn't see the ball.
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