Spring Sports Start Indoors, on Pavement

Spring Sports Start Indoors, on Pavement

With snow covered fields just now revealing grass, local teams coped during tryouts last week.

The problem with snow is that after the plows have moved all they can, it's a waiting game until the slushy slop of winter melts away.

As local high school winter sports seasons come to a close, spring sports such as lacrosse, soccer, tennis and baseball are gearing up.

But the lingering snow has forced the teams indoors, or to take creative measures in order to conduct tryouts.

At West Springfield, head boys' soccer coach Andrew Saffron resisted the urge to manually shovel the school's turf field.

"Our turf field wasn't clear and the school wouldn’t let us clear it," Saffron said. "If we tried to manually clear it with shovels, it would void the field's warranty."

With no fields available, Saffron sent his boys indoors for tryouts.

This isn't the first time Saffron has dealt with indoor tryouts. He's grown accustomed to the practice situation when the weather is bad.

"This has happened before," he said. "Three or four years ago we had to have tryouts indoors. It's not unheard of, it's just not ideal."

For Saffron and his soccer team, the gym’s confines weren't the main concern.

"There's 16 teams that need to use the gym as well as other organizations," he said. "Your time is very limited."

Even with a small timeframe, Saffron said that some good comes out of seeing players on a gym floor rather than a soccer pitch.

"It's kind of a bonus for some kids and a detriment to others," he said.

"In the past, we've had some kids who are good with the ball show really well indoors, but outside they don't have the team concepts down. Some are really good [on the field], but they don't handle the ball well in close quarters."

At Lake Braddock, 74 students tried out for the boys' lacrosse team. While other teams waited for snow to melt away, the Bruins watched their makeshift practice space turn into a snow dumping ground.

"The day before we were supposed to start, trucks came in and dumped snow on half of our blacktop practice field," head coach Steve Price said. "We didn't even had a lot of space to practice."

With such a small space to evaluate 74 players, Price said he was fortunate a former player came to the team's rescue.

"A former player of mine came out with some Bobcat [construction loaders] and moved the snow about 20 yards," he said. "We finally had some manageable space."

At Robinson, the baseball and softball teams headed indoors, but baseball head Jeff Ferrell said his kids were prepared for an indoor tryout.

"Some of the kids are used to trying out indoors during the winter," he said. "You still get a full infield indoors. I'm from Minnesota, so this isn't all that unusual to me."

Ferrell said a mix of sharing the gym and batting cages has cut into practice time, but the Northern Region basketball tournaments created another headache.

Due to the blizzard, the region basketball tournament was rescheduled during the spring sports tryout season.

"We lost two days of practice," he said. "It's a mess, but we'll get through it."