Spring Sports in the Northwest

Prep spring sports get off to rainy, windy start

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

Aim for the pins. The greens are receptive. It’s as if the golf ball will stop exactly where it lands.

Bring out the Diamond Dry. For if you want to stay dry in baseball and softball, a little chemical around the bases is required.

Leave the poles in the barn for now. No one wants to see a pole vaulter veer off course while catching a tailwind.

Then there’s soccer. No sympathy for soccer players. They’ve played in the rain since they were 4 years old. No, we have sympathy for soccer fans, who buy their towels in bulk.

Welcome to Spring Sports, Washington style.

After a long wait through the winter months of rain, cold, wind, and more rain, we welcome our journey into the spring months of rain, cold, wind, and more rain.

Or other bits of precipitation.

“This is the coldest year we’ve had in a long time,” Evergreen soccer coach Keenan Burris said. “First day of tryouts, it snowed. I’ve been doing this since 1995. I can’t remember having snow coming down.”

Evergreen opened its soccer season Monday with a loss to Mountain View, but the Plainsmen found something positive.

“Tonight was nice because it wasn’t pouring down rain,” Burris said.

Burris has two sports roles at Evergreen. As the school’s athletic director, he also has to manage the schedules for all of the teams. And when it rains, the gymnasium floods with athletes.

“This first month, it’s so weird. Wind storm. Hail storm. Then rain. We just weather it, but I don’t have any more gym space,” he said, referring to all the squads who come inside to practice. “I can’t add another team in the gym. It’s crazy.”

Teams must be flexible, too.

At Hudson’s Bay on Tuesday, the baseball team was scheduled to play its first game. But as of 10 a.m., there were three options available to the Eagles and coach Ben McGrew.

The tarp was over the field at Propstra Stadium, but the weather forecast called for rain and a possible thunderstorm early in the afternoon.

If the storm was late in arrival — much like Monday’s rain that hit Clark County in the evening — then perhaps the Eagles would still play their game.

If it was just rain, the team would practice outdoors, in the outfield.

But if there were thunderstorms, the players would be ushered inside the gym, but only after the softball team’s indoor practice.

That’s just the way of life for a spring sports athlete.

At least, officially, the Eagles were to begin play this week.

“You always kind of have that little bit of uncertainty and the hope of new beginnings,” McGrew said of the season opener. “Everybody has a chance to go out and make the playoffs and get after it. It’s game week, baby.”

Or — checking the skies — maybe not.

“It’s about par for the course,” said McGrew, who grew up in Vancouver and played baseball at Hudson’s Bay.

Speaking of par, it’s girls golf season, too. A year ago, a column in The Columbian called girls golfers the toughest of the spring sports athletes because they play through most conditions, and they are in the elements for their competition longer than the other athletes. Lightning will end a round in a flash, but heavy rains just mean heavy gear to wear.

Track and field athletes run through, jump above, and throw over puddles. Tennis players hope for the availability of indoor facilities.

And sometime in the near future, the sun will dominate for a day or two, suckering newcomers to the area into believing the end of the rain is near. That will be followed by another week of rainouts, washouts, and rescheduling.

The season will end. It always does. But there is no guarantee the sun will stay out for long.

Remember last spring? The weekend of the state championships — the end of May — brought us sideways rain at the track and field meet, and a full day of softball games postponed.

Baseball had no problems because it was being played at Safeco Field.

Maybe that’s what Clark County sports needs. A retractable roof, for the whole county.