Lousy spring has teams yelling “No más”

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Rob Reischel
Alan Roden and Middleton's baseball team haven't been able to play a game on Wisconsin soil this spring./File photo

In 1980, when boxing still mattered to much of the nation, Roberto Durán was the welterweight champion of the world.

During a memorable title fight against Sugar Ray Leonard held at the Louisiana Superdome, Leonard put on a show with his remarkable speed and movement and dominated Duran. In the closing moments of the eighth round, Duran turned to referee Octavio Meyran and said, “No más.”

In Spanish that means, “no more.”

Today, coaches throughout the state are looking outside or staring up at the sky and yelling, “No más” themselves.

Spring sports in Wisconsin are always tricky with cold temperatures, nasty winds and lousy field conditions. But a winter that simply will not end — and dumped more snow on the area last week — has made things far tougher than usual.

And coaches everywhere are throwing their hands up in frustration and begging Mother Nature to back off.

“It certainly has created havoc,” Middleton softball coach Perry Hibner said.

As of Tuesday morning, Middleton’s girls’ softball team had played one game — and had eight postponed.

Middleton’s baseball team went to Florida two weeks ago and played four games during their spring break. But since returning, the Cardinals had all three of their games postponed.

Middleton’s boys’ golf team has yet to play a match and was only able to practice outside one time.

For teams everywhere, the cancellations keep pouring in while the frustrations mount.

“The Wisconsin spring baseball season can be very, very unsettled with weather conditions,” Middleton baseball coach Tom Schmitt said. “The temperatures vary so much from day to day, the chances of snow persist well into the first three weeks of the season. Rain can hold you off the fields for days in a row.”

The art of coaching is a terrific challenge by itself. When you can’t get outside and conduct a routine practice, your creative genes are put to the test, as well.

Middleton boys golf coach Tom Cabalka spent several days last week going over the rules of the game with his players. Time and time again, golfers have rounds delayed as they scramble to get a ruling.

“That shouldn’t be as much of a problem this year,” Cabalka said. “We’re going to be pretty good on our rules.”

Hibner tries keeping things fresh with new drills or games. But even he admits, “there can be a Groundhog Day monotony because there are only so many things we can do.”

Schmitt spends a lot of time working on the mental side, a must in a thinking man’s sport like baseball. Each player also works endlessly on skills specific to their position.

Middleton is aided by indoor facilities that most communities can only dream of. But even that can’t fully prepare a team for what’s to come once they get outside.

“The time in the gym gives you more mental time than the physical and live situational practices,” Schmitt said. “You will never get the hops on gym floor that you get on Wisconsin spring grass. But you know it’s what you have to do and best prepare for that next game day.”

Many have searched for ideas to fix spring sports. In the end, though, the only true solution is to catch a break from the weather Gods.

Some have suggested moving spring sports to the fall. But that would mean several student-athletes would have to choose between two different sports they currently play. And in smaller schools, there simply wouldn’t be enough athletes to field teams in all of the sports.

Others have suggested starting spring sports two or three weeks later. This solution makes the most sense, as the only drawback is the seniors would graduate well before the end of their sports season.

“I know that isn’t ideal for seniors and schools being out,” Hibner said. “But it sure seems better than losing all these games due to lousy weather.”

For now, it doesn’t appear the WIAA plans to change anything when it comes to spring sports. And teams will race to play a full regular season in the next five or six weeks.

Middleton’s softball team was scheduled to play 15 games in 15 days last year — and will likely face a similar schedule this year. Middleton’s baseball team has six games scheduled in the next eight days, which will surely tax Schmitt’s pitching staff.

Middleton’s soccer team will try jamming four games in five days next week. Middleton’s golfers are scheduled to play four straight days next week.

“And then it gets tricky with school,” Cabalka said.

Those schedules are remarkably taxing — even if everything goes well.

Of course, with it being spring/winter in Wisconsin, there will be repeated weather issues. And the best laid plans will be ripped apart again.

“No más.”


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