Danville - Spring sports season is officially here. However, a challenge of being in the NEK is that many schools and sports teams face the hard task of practicing and playing on their fields.
Battling with Vermont's long winter season can be tough, but Danville's Head Varsity Baseball Coach, Nick DeCaro, doesn't let this stop him from preparing his players for a long season. "It is definitely a challenge to try and prepare for the season when you are at the mercy of the weather. I've got a great core of players that are now into their third season in our baseball program, and they have really taken it upon themselves to make the most of the time we do get in the gym."
As tough as it is for a coach and team to prepare for a season disrupted by winter weather, the job of an Athletic Director is also a constant battle fighting the conditions. Danville High School's Athletic Director, Randy Rathburn, is in constant communication with other AD's in the state as well as his own maintenance department to keep facilities play ready. Snowpack and damp field conditions prevent teams from playing, which can make scheduling a tough task.
"Schedules are 95% set about 9-months prior to the spring season, when a game needs to be rescheduled I work with the opposing school's Athletic Director to make that decision," Rathburn stated.
When it comes to rescheduling games, the toughest aspect has to be informing the public of the change in venues or any alteration to the previous schedule. "The first people to know about a schedule change are the coaches, bus drivers, scorekeepers, newspapers, TV stations, officials and any other individual that needs to know right away," said Rathburn. "I usually leave it up to the players and coaches to inform family members of any changes."
While Rathburn is busy rescheduling games, DeCaro and his team are taking advantage of indoor spaces to practice. "I feel there are pros and cons to being indoors. On the negative side, you are limited by space and time in what you can accomplish no doubt, but having to deal with a little adversity each day is great," said DeCaro. "We talk at the beginning and closing of each practice about having a purpose for everything we are working on, and how it will impact us once we are able to get outdoors."
Having fun under these sometimes extreme winter conditions may seem like the only guiding light while waiting for the first outdoor contest of the season.
"Luckily I have a very original group of young men that like to keep things loose, we blast classic rock at most practices and have had the occasional dance off. And karaoke has been known to spontaneously erupt," exclaimed DeCaro.
Both DeCaro and Rathburn seem up to the challenge of trying to prepare for the spring season as the snow continues to melt.
As of this week, the team has to even conduct a practice outside, let alone play a game at their own venue. Due to the field not being ready to be played on, their upcoming games have been moved to the opposing schools facilities.
Danville will face off against Peoples Academy at Peoples Academy on April 18th at 4:30 pm.