Weather May Affect Opening of Spring Season
The first day of spring has come and gone, the weather is slowly getting warmer and the calendar says that spring sports are set to begin in just a few weeks. The only problem? There are layers of ice and snow covering all of the playing surfaces around the city. Whether its baseball, softball, golf, track or anything else that deals with playing outdoors, it’s been a challenge thus far for all involved.
With that in mind, coaches are optimistic that they will begin their season on time. Roberto Mercado, head coach of the baseball program at New Britain High School, isn’t getting too worked up about the snow as he realizes that he or anyone else can’t control what happens outside.
“Honestly, I’m expecting our season to start on Opening Day, which is April 8. If something changes then we will make an adjustment. We can only control what we can control. To prepare for the upcoming season, we have been practicing indoors at the high school and will also be heading outside to get on the turf field at Veteran’s Stadium, thanks to the hard workers over at the Parks and Recreation Department. We just have to prepare the best we can.”
Robert Zadrozny, head coach of the boys’ golf program at New Britain High School, said that it’s going to be a close call for their season opener on April 9.
“Our first match is April 9, which should be close to course openings. Stanley Golf Course should open by Good Friday but we are playing at Conard at Rockledge and they have a lot of naturally damp spots so who knows. We’ve been talking about rules and have been hitting balls on the driving range to prepare as best we can. We are all in the same boat with all the teams around the region!”
Len Corto, Athletic Director of the New Britain School District, is less optimistic than his coaches, although he joked that the coaches always are doing everything they can to get outside and ready for the season.
“The start of spring will be delayed because of what has turned into white ice instead of snow. When it melts, we will have to wait for the mud to dry out. To get ready for the season, teams have been using the gyms, weight room, hallways and even driveways. Track teams were able to get on the track this week and baseball along with softball will be using the turf field at Veteran’s Stadium. The golf teams have been using the driving range. As for tennis, they have been conditioning inside the school and are waiting for the courts to clear of the snow and ice.”
Bill DeMaio, Director of the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, said that his department will do everything in their power to get the seasons to start on time but understands that they don’t have full control over the situation.
“We certainly have experienced one of the toughest, coldest, and snowiest winters in several years. We are watching the weather and are optimistic that this week’s warm temperatures and rain predictions will eliminate most of the snow. We will do everything in our power to get the fields ready for our youth to play. We are making arrangements for the NBHS baseball team to use the synthetic turf at Veterans Stadium this week.”
The youth sports are also impacted by the weather. New Britain Little League is set to begin its season on April 18 but are scheduled to begin outdoor practices on April 4. Across town, the Fagan Cal-Ripken league scheduled their Opening Day for April 25 but like NBLL, they are scheduled to begin their outdoor practices much earlier.
It will be a longshot for both leagues to get on the fields as early as they’d like as the priority will be given to the New Britain Rock Cats and high school sports. Once those are taken care of, the work will then shift towards the recreational level.
The only thing that everyone can do is wait and hope that the snow melts away quickly and the ground underneath dries up afterwards. We haven’t had a winter like this one in quite some time so it’s a learning experience for everyone. We’ll see what happens in a few weeks but the one thing that’s certain is that the temperature will continue to rise and we’ll be able to forget about this bitter winter.