Sports Teams Snowed In

Arie Knops, Staff Reporter

Though many across campus have expressed extreme annoyance with the seemingly never-ending winter experienced by Walla Walla this year, few have been more frustrated than many of the athletes on our campus. The snow covering the ground has forced practices for baseball, lacrosse, and ultimate frisbee teams indoors.

These teams are forced to compete for practice time in the multipurpose gym In Sherwood Center, which created a variety of difficulties.

First, we play on grass and moving to a court surface is problematic. Ultimate incorporates many changes of direction in quick succession and it’s harder to do in shoes than cleats. Second, we’ve had a number of injuries from person to person collisions on the court, as well as a number of players running into the walls while making plays on the disc,” sophomore Whitman Sweets ultimate frisbee team captain Robbie Farwell said. “Playing in such a confined space is dangerous for our sport. Third, scheduling practice times has become a nightmare with every sport needing to share court space.”

Women’s lacrosse has also been weary of the challenges presented by the change as they prepare to play in Texas this weekend.

“I don’t think it’ll affect our season as a whole but it will affect our first game because we haven’t practiced on a big field or the transitions across it yet,” said sophomore Maddie Florer.

Lucas Thrun, a sophomore baseball player, felt the team was able to use their indoor experience to their advantage for a sunny weekend in California last weekend. In their first outdoor play of the semester of the season, the team beat the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges team in three of four matchups this past weekend.

We were far more excited to be playing baseball on a field and to give it everything we had, rather than sit back and think, ‘but what if we had been able to practice on our field?’ That positive outlook helped us stay relaxed, helped us pick each other up, and got us some wins,” Thrun said. “If anything, it’s made us more excited to go out to any ballpark and win some games.”

Farwell felt the opposite.

All things considered, we’ve played beautifully for not having practiced outside as a team since mid-December. It’s early in the spring season, and everyone has improved tremendously over the course of the fall, but being limited to just indoor practices so far this term has adversely affected our team’s preparedness for our spring season tournaments,” he said.

Not only has adapting play been a difficulty, but many teams have struggled with trying to practice with the limited availability of the multipurpose gym.

“The MP gym schedule gets loaded heavily when the fields freeze over. We’ve had a number of practices late into the evening and it can be difficult for student athletes to manage work time,” Farwell said.

For the baseball team, the completion of the new Borleske Stadium indoor practice facility could not have been better timed.

“In years past, during rough weather, the team would practice in the multipurpose gym, with gym floors being the only surface we could practice on. With the building of the new indoor facility last year, we have been able to practice in a much more baseball-specific facility, complete with turf and pitching mounds,” Thrun said.

Though this is not the first time weather has affected athletic seasons (wildfire smoke has moved practices inside in previous years), this was the longest practice disruption in recent memory. Spring athletes across campus are going to be relieved to see the snow continue to melt and for practicing outside to return as a possibility. Only time will tell if a disrupted start to practicing will affect these teams’ seasons.