Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 28, 2013

‘Old Man Winter’ extends his cold grip and delays spring sports

By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Every spring coaches and athletes in the region have to deal with cool temperatures and precipitation. That is no different this year except the cool weather is unusually cold, and the precipitation in late March is snow, not rain.

The prolonged snow this winter, and now early spring has created much havoc with the practice and game schedules of outdoor sports teams throughout the region. There have been very few days teams have been able to get outside for either practice or play.

At Bluefield High School, the Beavers baseball team has been able to play a couple of games, and when they have been able to get outside they have practiced on the turf at Mitchell Stadium. The Beavers have been on a baseball field only three times, once for a scrimmage against Fort Chiswell, and for games at Mount View and River View. The Beavers (2-0) are hoping to play Friday at James Monroe and Saturday at PikeView.

“If it wasn’t for Mitchell Stadium and the indoor cages at Bowen, we’d be in pretty rough shape right now,” said BHS coach Justin Gilbert. “We would just be way  behind, especially going to Myrtle Beach next week, playing a bunch of teams. It’s going to be tough. We’re a little behind the eight-ball on weather, but we’ve been trying to make the most out of it.”

When the Beavers get to Myrtle Beach, they will do something for the first time since workouts began four weeks ago.

“We are going down a day early to practice,” Gilbert noted. “I’m looking forward to that day because it will be the first practice that we will have on a baseball field. We might not know what to think, to go down there and practice outdoors.”

Across town and the state border, Hank Furry is the girls soccer coach at Graham High School. The G-Girls, who played for the Virginia state championship last season, are off to a 3-0 start, but Furry said when things warm up, they are going to have to spend a lot more time on the pitch.

“ Normally I like to go for about an hour-and-a-half, but I told the girls when the weather breaks we will probably spend two full hours in practice and we will practice some on Saturday and play catch up,” Furry said.

Kali Furry is a member of the G-Girls team who recently signed to play at Bluefield College after she graduates. She knows the team has to get outside soon.

“It is kind of crazy with all this snow,” Kali said. “It would be nice if it would get warmer because we really haven’t been able to practice outside probably five times. We have played outside for games, but that is still not the same where we need to get our technical skills down.”

Meanwhile the boys soccer team at GHS has managed to get in a pair of games and sports a 1-1 record. Coach George Aiello can count on one hand the times the team has been able to practice outside.

“We have only had practice outside four times this year,” Aiello said. “It is real challenging when you are in the gym with 24 boys, to keep them engaged and moving, but they have worked real hard this year.”

Forrest Yates is a member of the G-Men’s squad and he takes Mother Nature’s wrath in stride.

“Just living in Bluefield, you have to deal with the snow,” Yates said. “We did OK in our first game and not getting outside any before then.”

At Montcalm, softball coach Cindy Havens and the Lady Generals have worked out in the gym and in the school’s commons area, stepping onto the field only for the six games they have played this season.

“The thing that has hurt us the most is the pitching, where the pitchers haven’t been able to pitch off of a mound. That has probably been the hardest thing for us, and of course the outfield, judging fly balls and things like that,” Havens pointed out.

Montcalm is off to a 2-4 record despite having not practiced without a roof over their heads. Havens said this is one of the worst springs, as far as weather conditions, she can recall.

“I’ve not seen it this bad, to cancel so many games at the beginning of the season,” Havens commented. “You’re usually hit-and-miss with games, in the past we have been that way. This year has probably been the worst, especially  for snow, that I can remember in a while.”

Warmer weather conditions and no precipitation is in the forecast for the remainder of the week headed into the weekend.

Brian Woodson contributed to this story.