Coaches, athletes eager to get on the field as weather interferes with spring sports schedule

March 5

Monday’s snowstorm wreaked major havoc on the postseason basketball schedule in Maryland, postponing games, preventing practices and forcing a backlog of basketball through the weekend.

But while winter sports coaches and athletes are anxious to reach their championship stages, spring sports participants are simply looking to get on the field.

Like soccer, lacrosse, baseball, softball and tennis teams across the area, the Hayfield boys’ soccer team will be confined to a gym for the rest of the week. One week after holding tryouts, the Hawks are unable to practice on a pitch that will remain soggy long after the latest wave of snow melts away.

For Coach Dan Drickey, that means prolonging the process of polishing a team searching for its identity after the graduation of eights players from a year ago.

“It just makes for a little bit of a challenging start and stop to the season,” Drickey said. “We’re fortunate at Hayfield that we have one of the bigger gyms in the area.”

While many schools in Fairfax County wait for the snow to melt to return to their turf fields, Hayfield still plays on grass. The team was forced to practice inside before the storm last week because of low temperatures and the moisture the field accrued in the previous February storm.

Grif Barhight, who coaches boys’ lacrosse at Oakton and serves as an Assistant Director of Student Activities for Fairfax County Public Schools, said that many of Oakton’s spring sports teams were able to make it through cuts last week and will continue practicing outside this week with the luxury of a new turf field that was installed last summer. Had this week’s storm occurred a year ago, “all of our spring athletes would’ve been stuck,” Barhight said. “If you didn’t have turf, you weren’t getting outside at all last week.”

Baseball diamonds across the area were just being spruced for the upcoming season when the storm hit. At Magruder, where the field sits on a slight inclined hill, heavy moisture in February had already chewed up the infield and created a major project for second-year Coach Brandon Wilkins. Now his club will be lucky to play on its diamond within the next week.

“Before this last storm, it was still squishy. Now it’s just a mess,” said Wilkins, who said he and his players are responsible for taking care of the field during the season. “As long as there is still snow out, there is nothing I can really do.”

The Montgomery County spring sports season officially opened last Saturday, which allowed the Paint Branch baseball team to begin tryouts. The team was on schedule to have cuts made by Tuesday, Coach Tommy Rey said, which would give the team plenty of time to implement signs and coverages ahead of three scrimmages later this week.

But the snow has now thrown the baseball team into the whirlwind of postseason basketball rescheduling. Rey’s team was allotted 75 minutes of practice time after school on Wednesday before the Maryland 4A North region playoffs take over the gym. The school is set to host the region finals on Saturday, which could cause further complications. Rey, whose team opens the season March 21, said he expects to scrap three scheduled scrimmages this week.

“Struggle is an understatement . . . to be honest with you, I don’t even know what we’re going to do, where we’re going to go,” he said. “I just take it one day at a time.”

Rey and Drickey resorted to Twitter to communicate with their players with schools closed earlier this week. Drickey encouraged his team to run stairs and shovel snow to stay active.

Hayfield senior Geoffrey Young took the words to heart, gathering four teammates and shoveling sidewalks in Alexandria to raise money for their team and simply to get out of the house. After the previous snowstorm, the team raised about $300 shoveling.

“It’s team building,” Young said, “because we got together on a day when we could’ve basically done nothing, and decided to go as a team and shovel and raise money for the team.”

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