Soggy surfaces stall Spring sports schedules

“We are obligated to make up these games,” said Athletic Director Peter Gooding. “Unfortunately, that forces students to deal with the possibility of missing classes. I can’t blame the faculty for their frustration.”

It is difficult to say exactly how great the effect of the rain will be on the spring season, but it is clear that coaches and players are concerned about the level of preparation that they will have heading into conference play. “This has been a challenging preseason for all sports teams. It has been challenging to get into a rhythm with our practice and game schedule being disrupted so much because of the late winter and recent rain,” said head women’s lacrosse coach Christine Paradis. Many teams are faced with the prospect of heading into NESCAC play despite having played few or no out-of-conference opponents. The pre-NESCAC schedule is a crucial part of the schedule, giving players a chance to gel and coaches a chance to experiment without risking damage to their conference standings.

With all the teams fleeing from the rain, indoor space and practice time has been at a premium. “As nice as our indoor facilities are, they still cannot handle seven varsity teams and club sports practicing indoors for an extended time,” said assistant football coach and assistant athletic director Don Faulstick.

Practicing indoors is not nearly as beneficial as outdoor practice. “We have had about eight days of outdoor practice post-Spring Break,” said head men’s tennis coach Rick Edelman. “Any day outdoors is better than your best possible day indoors.”

The only games played over the weekend were men’s and women’s lacrosse, two teams that were visiting NESCAC rivals Colby and Williams Colleges, respectively. Both schools have turf fields.

Many coaches and players feel that the best solution is for Amherst to install a turf playing field as well. “We are one of the only teams in the NESCAC without a turf field, and it really hurts us,” said men’s lacrosse co-captain Colby Griffith ’05. “We are forced to practice inside in the cage or at UMass at inconvenient times.”

Paradis added, “We have been going to UMass when we can, but certainly teams with turf on campus are at a distinct advantage at this point in the season.”

Until a turf field is actually put in, however, the teams will have to make do with what is available as the April showers continue.