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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Winter Weather Continues to Plague Spring Sports

<cing some of the coldest April temperatures on record in certain parts of Minnesota, Carleton’s spring student-athletes are having to find ways to adapt to the cold weather. With the hard, snowy ground and colder temperatures making it difficult to play outside, teams have seen their games canceled or postponed, causing both athletic and academic issues for spring student-athletes.

Varsity sports are limited by NCAA and MIAC rules as to how late in the year their games can be played, meaning that as games get postponed, their schedule becomes more condensed towards the end of the season. This is particularly problematic for the baseball and softball teams, as more frequent games call for more available pitchers.

In order to keep players healthy, a baseball starting pitcher typically needs at least three to four days of rest before their arm has recovered and they are able to throw again. Relief pitchers can often throw for fewer innings much more frequently. Even then, these players still need at least one day of rest between appearances, which will be an issue if the Knights are frequently playing back-to-back Saturday/Sunday double headers. Softball, while still being forced inside, has been able to get some of their games played inside.

According to NCAA guidelines, teams are limited to two double headers during the week and to two double headers on the weekend. The season could then theoretically be played in three weeks, which would mean all four doubleheaders a week for the Knights.

According to Max Lane ’19, the baseball team’s SAAC representative, if the weather does not improve soon, it is possible for MIAC officials to convene and decide to change the rules regarding scheduling restrictions, such as the start date and format of the playoffs.  A change to the playoffs would mean a potentially longer regular season and shortened playoffs. MIAC officials and coaches will likely convene this weekend to evaluate potential changes to the regular schedule.

Ben Frerichs ’18, a baseball captain and pitcher, expressed his concerns about the upcoming season. “Since we’re likely going to be playing our season in just three weeks, our pitching isn’t going to be lined up the way we would usually want it. We’re really going to need contributions from everyone in order to succeed,” Frerichs said.  He was, however, excited to play games quickly and see how the team played when everyone hit the field running.

The baseball team is coming off a successful spring trip to Tucson, Arizona, and players have expressed optimism about their chances this year, especially with ace Alec Lawler ’18 making an uncharacteristically quick recovery from ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery over the summer.

Liam Holloway-Bidwell ’20, a member of CUT, highlighted another important issue with the colder weather. Along with games getting canceled, teams haven’t been able to practice outside. Indoor practices mean players are generally spending longer times at practice and taking less realistic reps.

Golf players have been stuck in the stadium using the golf simulator while they wait for courses around Northfield to open up.

For baseball, this means readjusting to taking ground balls off an uneven and differently textured surface and practicing accounting for wind on the field.

For frisbee players, it means adjusting to making the quick cuts and sprints on grass that they need to be successful, as well as for the windy conditions that frequent Minnesota fields.

Holloway-Bidwell also commented on the effects this schedule can have on the academic lives of student-athletes: “Packing our tournaments into tighter amounts of time is bad for schoolwork, as well as recovery,” Holloway-Bidwell said.

More teams practicing inside has also caused crowding in the Recreation Center. For Mikki Showers, Manager of the Recreation Center and Director of Recreational Sports, it has proven difficult to give everyone enough court time. “In the last ten years, this is probably the longest we’ve had to deal with something like this. We’re really trying our hardest to make sure that all users have fair access to court time in the Rec,” she said.

To accommodate as many people as possible, teams have started using various sport domes around Rice County. Men’s lacrosse has recently played games in the Dundas dome, while frisbee players have been practicing in Faribault. This is costly both in terms of time and money.
“Along with booking field times, we want to make sure that students have safe transportation to and from games and practices, which means they’re taking busses back and forth,” said Showers.

Additionally, spring intramurals haven’t been able to start yet, and limited space in the rec center has kept them from doing much preliminary work. Zoe Denckla ’20, a member of Syzygy, commented on how the commute time has been affecting her and her teammates’ schedules. “Practicing in Faribault has definitely been more stressful than regular practice—it’s more time taken out of our day,” she said.

The student-athletes, however, while certainly expressing concerns and hope for warmer weather, are embracing the challenge ahead of them. While it will be a busy and difficult road ahead, players are ready to face it head on.

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