Long winter, big snows force spring athletes indoors, delaying practice, season

Snow around Sabine field tells the story - spring sports have had a slow start thanks to the cool, snowy spring.

Snow around Sabine field tells the story – spring sports have had a slow start thanks to the cool, snowy spring.

When winter decides it wants to hang around for a few more weeks, it is generally met with distaste, especially in Vermont, where the winters are already brutal and frigid. However, no group has to deal with this problem more than spring season athletes.

It is not an easy thing to be a softball, baseball, or lacrosse player for Norwich. The idea of a home-field advantage, a key aspect of any organized sport, is severely compromised year after year because of the weather.

Most years, the winter season in central Vermont is long, but this year seems particularly excessive, with snow lasting well into April.

As a result, spring athletes have suffered long and unusual hours in Shapiro field house to compensate for time that could have been spent outside under game-like conditions. This is a luxury that other schools’ athletes enjoy, but it hasn’t been the case for Norwich this year.

This particular winter has already caused several issues with scheduling, even though the NU Athletic Department is adept at scheduling spring games. However this winter, and especially the month of March, saw record snowfalls and low temperatures in Vermont and across the country that affected spring sports.

Still, not all sports have been affected in a negative way, as the ski and snowboard seasons have been effectively extended. Jacob DeHaven, a criminal justice major from Gilbertsville, Penn., loves to ride and he has enjoyed the snow conditions.

“Being a snowboarder is great because you get a lot of extra mountain time. It’s one of the major reasons why it’s nice to be here in Vermont. When the big storms come in, the snow piles up and it takes a while to melt. This year, at least at Sugarbush, the season will probably go into the beginning of May.”

That may be all well and good for snowboarders, but the prolonged winter weather has caused a host of problems for the various spring sports on campus.

Mark Paradiso, the 22-year-old starting goaltender and co-captain for the men’s lacrosse team from Newton, Mass., has been less than satisfied with the situation at the new Sabine field.

“We were really excited for the turf field this year, but I think the maintenance and plowing has been subpar. They plowed over the drains that melt away the snow, and that is the conclusion we [lacrosse team] have come to realize,” said Paradiso.

In all fairness, many other schools are having issues with the prolonged winter as several away games in many sports have been canceled. But Paradiso counters, noting, “They built this field for a specific purpose, and it was so we wouldn’t have to deal with exactly what we are putting up with.”

Other problems with the field are that it still is entirely frozen in some areas. “The far right corner by the scoreboard and along the sideline is completely frozen. It’s dangerous for the players to be playing in those conditions,” explained Paradiso.

Another issue Paradiso points out is a lack of heating pipes or similar system underneath the field, and “we would expect better from a multi-million dollar facility.”

These issues have made it nearly impossible to use the field, and Norwich’s men’s team has had a total of four games canceled as a direct result.

The women’s lacrosse team has been affected as much, or even worse, as they did not get a chance to play a game until after spring break.

Said Caroline Manning, a sophomore defenseman and Criminal Justice major from Duxbury, Mass., “We had a total of five games canceled so far, a majority of which were supposed to be at home [on Sabine].”

The women’s and men’s teams just completed their first home games on April 3 and 5, respectively.

According to Manning, FacOps wasn’t able to help much on the field. “Our team actually used individual practice time with our coaches to help shovel the field, not work on lacrosse. I honestly think NU students helped more with clearing the field than the school did.”

While spring athletes are understandably frustrated, they’re itching to get out on the fields. “Generally, though I do like the new turf field, I think it makes a huge difference to our school. It’s so nice to have. I had one in high school and it just makes everything so much better,” added Manning.

Due to the issues with the field, teams have had to utilize Shapiro Field House, prompting oddly scheduled practice times. For example, the baseball team has been practicing as late as 9 p.m. in some cases.

Luckily enough, the weather will eventually clear up as the temperatures rise. The Norwich baseball team will likely be able to use their field the last week of April, and the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams were able to get on the field for the first time last week, winning their first two games. Until the snow is gone, teams will have to continue battling against the fallout from this hard winter.

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