Wild weather postpones sports

The Oak Harbor Wildcats baseball squad, along with many of the other local teams, has battled the wild March elements to get events played so far.  - Cynthia Woolbright
The Oak Harbor Wildcats baseball squad, along with many of the other local teams, has battled the wild March elements to get events played so far.
— image credit: Cynthia Woolbright

The recent string of wild weather has made for plenty of headaches at the Oak Harbor and Coupeville athletic offices.

Spring sports are just getting under way, but rain, snow, and the threat of snow have made for a series of postponements and cancellations that have affected almost every team from both schools.

“This season so far has been my worst nightmare, It has been a pain,” said Coupeville athletic director Ron Bagby. Bagby is in the unenviable position of trying to get games played and if they can’t, trying to figure out when they can.

His counterpart at Oak Harbor High agreed. “We’ve got off to a bad start,” said Wildcats AD Jeff Stone, “You know this just gets worse and worse every year.”

As of Monday, the Coupeville Wolves baseball team has played just one of four scheduled games. The Wildcats have been a little bit luckier, getting in their first two contests before Saturday’s game at Burlington was cancelled. Each school’s softball team has played just one game.

“I don’t think that I have ever had a spring as wet as this as long as I can remember coaching baseball,” said Coupeville head coach Willie Smith.

Coupeville’s baseball and softball teams have missed two league games each and Bagby is scrambling to find dates to make those contests up. The Northwest A League moved to a 15-game league schedule this season, so available dates are harder to come by.

“You really have to worry about the league games first – they are a priority,” said Bagby. ”It’s tough on the kids because they’re going to be playing a lot of back-to-back games.”

It also makes finding space for practices difficult. Earlier this week with the rain coming down, Coupeville had baseball and softball sharing the school’s large gym, tennis in the smaller facility, and the track team was in the weight room.

“We’ve been in the gym for what seems like a week,” said Smith. “It’s like I’m coaching basketball again.”

The athletic director has to be part secretary, part seer, and part meteorologist. Especially with Washington and particularly Whidbey Island weather, the job is a daunting task.

“I’ve cancelled tennis matches and an hour later it’s sunny,” said Bagby.

Both schools try and make decisions before the athletes are on the road to the event. When a rainout (or a snowout) occurs it makes for a busy day in the athletics office.

“Sometimes (postponements) make up your whole day, with answering phones, rescheduling games, and calling buses,” said Stone.

The distance between Oak Harbor and Coupeville and their rival schools also makes for problems when it comes to weather-related issues. Last Friday the Wolves were scheduled to host Orcas in baseball and softball. The decision was made to postpone the contests, but the Vikings were already on their way.

“We tried calling the bus, but they were already on the way,” said Bagby.

One sport in which the show went on last week was soccer. The Oak Harbor boys team ignored the rain and windy weather as they dismantled two league opponents to start the season 2-0. Both games were played on a soggy Memorial Stadium field.

“The field was so wet it was like a sponge,” said Stone. “I guess our guys must be mudders.”

Both schools’ track teams also got in meets last week as well. Oak Harbor spent a frigid Saturday in Lynden at the Co-Ed Relays, where the chilly air and wind chill brought the temperature down into the teens.

“Some days you would rather have the snow,” said Wildcats coach Seth Hodges about the weather. “At least with snow it might have been overcast and lacked the gusting wind.”

According to Hodges, it was so cold that the coaches agreed to relax the uniform rules and allow the athletes to compete in anything to stay warm. Some wore shorts, others wore layers of sweats.

If it’s bad here, imagine what it’s like for other are schools. Whatcom, Skagit and North Snohomish counties got hit harder than you can imagine for this time of the year.

“I went to a meeting in Mount Vernon, and there was a guy there who said that Darrington had 10 inches of snow,” said Stone “At least we’ve been able to get some of our games in.”

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