The start of the 2024 spring semester brought unexpected challenges for more than just MC academics. With additional weather-related obstacles to overcome, three of the outdoor sports at Maryville College had to make adjustments during the first few weeks of the new year.
Softball, baseball and track and field, the outdoor spring sports at MC that were affected, experienced different challenges, leading coaches and players to make adjustments this season.
Routines for these teams were influenced by the snowy field, the limited space to practice and a fallen tree on the fence.
“With the recent rain and snow, it has forced all sports to adjust to using indoor facilities,” said Clint Helton, head baseball coach. “Most of us have been using gym space in Cooper to adjust our practice and training schedules.”
Some players expressed concerns about getting their feet on the turf to practice in cleats. Coaches had other worries, including team practices being limited due to space. Softball Head Coach Jill Moore mentioned the lack of full team defense practices and the inability to practice receiving ground balls at this point in the year.
“Working together is the part that we’re really missing that I’m hoping we get back soon – defensively and from a team standpoint,” Moore added.
This lack of team practice couples with concerns about the physical impacts of this weather.
Grass seed was planted on the field in the fall and had started to grow before the snow. At some point before the thaw, track and field Director Kunle Lawson checked the snow-covered field.
“Somebody had done doughnuts in our landing area, adjacent to where our throws are,” he explained. “All that grass has now been completely ripped up.”
Additionally, in the center field area of Scotland Yard, the baseball fence was damaged by a fallen tree during the storm.
“I’m thankful we have a great staff over grounds and facilities when things like this happen,” Helton said.
With adjusted practice times leading to class conflicts, coaches have been flexible, reminding athletes that the priority is still their academic success, and offering support in the ways they can.
“One of the main challenges is coordinating class schedules and practice areas,” Helton said. “Moving practice to an indoor location requires smaller groups for limited space. Fortunately, our coaches in our Athletic Department are great to work with for coordinating practice times and space.”
Moore added her observations on the team progress, stating that “they are doing a great job in the weight room and conditioning sessions in the gym, [as well as] making use of resources available.”
“At the end of the day, we want the student athletes to have the best experience. Try to do things on our end so that the impact they feel is minimal,” Lawson added.
While the prolonged snow pack this season was unusual for Maryville, weather is always a challenge for spring sports, regardless of whether it is snow, ice or rain. Despite the difficulties faced, the coaches were unanimously optimistic.
“Being adjustable and flexible are two traits we talk about a lot with our players,” said Helton. “Snow and ice are not ideal by any means, but we are used to having rain and cold temps this time of year.”
As these teams get on the field to play in the following weeks, MC students, staff and faculty can show their support by attending games. To find out more about game days, check out the athletics page on the Maryville College website, or ask an athlete.
Moore stated, “The weather is a big part of our game and what we deal with, so I am going to stay optimistic and say it is preparing us for delays and obstacles that are out of our control this spring.”