Have you noticed that winter just won’t go away this year? I’m sure many athletes and coaches know it all too well.
Collegiate sports like . . .
As a former high school softball coach, I’ve spent many shivering afternoons on various diamonds around the area. Barring injury, there is no crying in baseball or softball, of course. But those cold and windy afternoons often brought out the “unhappy” side of my players. I dared not so much as mutter a complaint myself, lest it fuel a torrent of self-pity among the entire group. You just have to plow through these things! That was the message.
Of course, you’d rather plow through short games than long, and several factors, unfortunately, contributed to the latter.
As a small school, we had just one team – the varsity. Typically, we had seniors through freshmen in the starting lineup. Finding at least one pitcher and one catcher was the first priority. Heaven forbid either one get hurt.
I was particularly thankful for the pitchers and catchers. There was no fast pitch feeder program in our area at that time. Hence, they had to be taught pitching mechanics from scratch. The process takes time, and everyone is best served when they try pitching at a younger age. High school girls seemed loath to try something completely new – particularly when it could put them in the spotlight when they were struggling.
Of course, worse than getting hit hard is being the pitcher who struggles to throw strikes. There is no defense for the base-on-balls!
My experience is that once many umpire see balls in the first inning, good luck getting any borderline calls the rest of the way. In fact, with a few umps, you basically had to groove it waist high down the middle once they saw you struggle.
Cold hands/fingers only accentuate problems for pitchers and catchers. The former feels bad enough walking people in good weather. Think how pitchers feel when they know they are keeping their teammates out on the field. Throw in an error or two by “numified” fielders, and such innings seem to last forever.
You do what you can to cope – gloves, handwarmers, coats and so forth. We even put the pitcher and catcher in a nearby car once when we were at bat. Wouldn’t you know it, the opponent got a quick three outs. “Hey, get out of that car and get back out there!”
Advances in sportswear probably help some. I am, however, looking forward to a time when teams in cold weather climates can play actual league games at indoor venues.
For now, we should at least be grateful that more and more teams are benefitting from indoor practice facilities. Spring football is no doubt MUCH more productive now that teams are using indoor practice facilities and several MAC schools recently moved their “spring game” indoors.
Those same facilities are generally open for use by other sports as well. As one who has battled winter for outdoor practice time, I say on behalf of many, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you,” donors. Your money is well spent.