Playing through rain, wind and cold

Published 9:42 pm Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The winter season of high school sports is practically done, leaving a couple weeks before the wide variety of spring sports gets underway. March 16 is the big opening day for most of Lakeland’s, Nansemond River’s, King’s Fork’s and Nansemond-Suffolk’s spring teams.

Spring is supposed to give us pleasant, warming weather; and eventually, global warming or not, that’s what will happen.

If standing on the sidelines for the last few spring seasons has taught me anything, though, the first few weeks of baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, track, tennis and the rest of the spring sports schedule will likely go wanting for the most-loved attributes of spring.

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When it comes to the harshest weather for high school sports, it’s not close. It’s not the last couple weeks of football season. It’s the first month or so of 5:30 p.m. baseball and softball games that go 12 innings. It’s a 7 p.m. soccer match played with the temperature in the low 40s and gusty winds and a steady rain.

Unlike football or basketball teams, most of the baseball or soccer games will be played in front of crowds numbering in the dozens.

Yet, despite of the weather and everything, there will be no question of playing and competing hard, even as the players probably can’t feel their fingers or toes.

The early-season, late-night games aren’t played in perfect conditions, and it’s even more unpleasant for the unseen practices going back into February.

The spring sports calendar starts in windy and cold conditions. Those conditions get harsher the deeper into the evening the game continues — as late as 10 p.m. or so for a soccer match that starts a bit late and enters into overtime.

Most years for Suffolk’s schools, the high school sports year closes with the state track and field championship in Newport News, on an intensely-bright June afternoon with 90-degree temperatures beating down on Todd Stadium’s track.

For the next few weeks, though, local high school sports fans should remember to bring along stocking caps and gloves. Don’t put away your winter coat. Even if you don’t need it in the first inning, three hours later in extra innings, you might miss a half-inning going back to the car to get it, or to turn on the heat in the car. Doubling up socks is a good idea, too. Remember though, spring is right around the corner even if “spring” sports are well under way.

Andrew Giermak is publisher of the Suffolk News-Herald. He can be reached at