Ah, springtime. There’s nothing quite like it, is there?
Spring must have a good public-relations person. The word “spring” conjure up images of Easter, bright sunshine, greenery coming to life. Spring is when baseball comes back to us, not to mention a variety of other high school sports like softball, lacrosse and track and field. All good stuff.
Please forgive me if I sometimes can’t help but feel that it’s all a crock, a tease.
The spring could be my favorite season, if only it weren’t for the weather that comes with it. From a sports editor’s desk, the spring season brings with it a myriad of headaches and problems, complicating scheduling beyond imagine.
The early-spring cold has a bite to it that I swear makes it feel worse than the late fall. It could be my imagination, but I don’t think so.
Here is a valuable piece of advice for fans attending high school games in the spring: You can never overdress at a sporting event in the spring. Wear layers of clothing. Gloves and a wool cap help, too. Remember, if the temperature warms up, you can always take off jackets and sweatshirts.
But all of that is secondary to the larger question of whether you will have a game to see at all on a given day.
Making assignments for reporters and photographers is complicated further by the curveballs Mother Nature throws at us.
Since well before the high school softball season started, I had made a note to make sure we cover a season-opening game between Bishop McGann-Mercy and Mattituck on March 21. The game had a built-in angle with new coaches, McGann-Mercy’s Jackie Zilnicki and Mattituck’s Kim Gerstung, facing off against each other.
The day of the game was an “iffy” one, with a wintry mix having hit Long Island the night before. I emailed a school official and learned that the game, scheduled to be played at Mattituck High School, had been postponed until the following day. I notified a reporter and photographer of the change.
What we didn’t learn until the following day was that the game had indeed been played — at McGann-Mercy — the day it was scheduled.
Nature is full of surprises. We were all taken aback at how pleasant and warm it was for the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold girls lacrosse team’s season opener on a day when the temperature hit — wait for it — the 50s! I kid you not. That day was an absolute delight.
We have paid for it ever since, though, with rain and high winds throwing schedules into a mess.
I was at a Southold softball game recently telling a trainer that I was going to return to the school the following day for a baseball game. “What baseball game?” he asked. Then he told me the closing game of the three-game series between Greenport and Southold had been bumped up and was played the day before. Why? I don’t know.
We have had some rough days. We covered a girls lacrosse game that was played in its entirety in the rain, some of it dropping in heavy buckets. If not for the field turf at Shoreham-Wading River High School’s beautiful new Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field, the game would not have been played that day.
I have learned the art of layering up. However, I have also found that no matter how many layers you wear, the cold will eventually seep in if you are outside long enough. That was the case last Wednesday at a girls lacrosse game at McGann-Mercy. It was bitterly cold, the worst day we have had yet, in my opinion. Since I had already been outside for about 90 minutes before the game’s start, I felt the chill even before the opening draw. By halftime I was struggling to keep warm, wondering if I would make it to the end. I did, barely. When I made it into my car afterward, the car told me it was 43 degrees outside. My car must be a liar.
Another event I was keenly interested in covering was the first girls track dual meet of the season between Mattituck and McGann-Mercy. Last year Mattituck lost its opening dual meet to McGann-Mercy, and it ultimately decided the League VIII championship. McGann-Mercy raced to the league title with a 6-0 record while Mattituck won the remainder of its meets to finish second at 5-1.
Similarly, this league opener has huge implications on the league-title chase. It was originally scheduled for April 4, postponed to three days later, and then postponed yet again for April 18. Let’s hope the third time is the charm. Spring certainly isn’t.
The other day in my office I was grumbling to one of our sports photographers, Garret Meade, about how the weather had spoiled plans yet again. Then, in mid-sentence, it hit me: I had this exact same discussion with him a year ago at this time.
So, for now, let’s say I have a love/hate relationship with the spring.
The first official day of spring was March 20. When is the real spring arriving?
I would say late May.
Photo caption: Members of the Bishop McGann-Mercy girls lacrosse team huddled together for warmth near their team bench as they braved the elements during a home game against Elwood/John Glenn last Wednesday. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)