Excessive snow a nuisance for administrators, coaches
While students across the Kansas City metro area stayed home from school Wednesday in the wake of Tuesday’s blizzard that buried most of the area in about a foot of snow, John Hilton was hard at work.
Hilton, Bonner Springs High School’s activities director, was busy working the phones and rescheduling basketball games that had been canceled.
First, he scheduled a new date for the Braves’ home basketball games against Atchison. Then he worked with the Piper AD to find a new date for Thursday’s games. It was the second time Hilton had to reschedule both match-ups due to snow — and there’s no telling if it’ll be the last. BSHS now will play Atchison on Saturday, Feb. 12, and Piper on Wednesday, Feb. 23.
Rescheduling games comes with the territory for high school activities and athletics directors, but most agree that this winter has been as challenging as they’ve faced in recent memory.
“The biggest challenge is finding open dates that work for both teams,” Hilton said. “Especially this late in the season and the fact that we’ve had so many (snow days) already really limits you.”
Schools in the area have missed as many as six days of school due to snow and frigid temperatures since classes resumed in January.
“This is only my third year (as an AD), so it’s definitely the worst winter,” Hilton said. “I’m hoping the spring is more gentle this year.”
Basehor-Linwood athletics director Joe Keeler said it’s been the worst winter he’s seen in 12 years on the job.
While Hilton has been busy rescheduling individual games, Keeler had to rearrange a basketball tournament schedule twice during the week-long Basehor-Linwood Basketball Invitational that ran Jan. 17-22. Two days of the combined boys and girls tournament were disrupted by snow, but it still was completed in its entirety after some schedule juggling. Instead of playing four games every day, the Friday and Saturday schedules featured eight games per day spread across two or three gymnasiums.
“With the help of many people we were able to pull it off,” Keeler said. “Using the middle school and our second gym made it work. It would not have been possible without the collective efforts of many.”
Administrators are hardly the only ones frustrated with the cancellations caused by winter storms. The inconvenience affects players and coaches just as much, St. James Academy girls basketball coach Greg Hohensinner said. Snow has led to the cancellation of five of his team’s games this season. Two of them were rescheduled, only to be canceled again.
Hohensinner’s squad braced for three games in four days last week. None of them happened as scheduled.
“We’ve been smack-dab hit hard on our game days,” Hohensinner said.
St. James finally played a make-up game Saturday night at Barstow (Mo.) Academy, and Hohensinner said it was clear by his team’s slow start that the weather — and the loss of practice and game time that came with it — had on his team.
“When you have those big gaps not playing or at least practicing, it really causes the girls to start losing their objectivity of where they’re at,” Hohensinner said. “That first quarter (against Barstow) we just didn’t come out ready to go, and it took us a whole quarter to get that done. Against some of the teams we’re going to be playing, if we do that it’s going to be game over.”
St. James won the game, 59-28, after leading by just two after the first quarter.
“Our opponents are in the same position, though,” Hohensinner noted of the weather disruptions. “They’re having to deal with games being canceled, too.”
Basketball is hardly the only sport that has been impacted by the snow. Mill Valley’s wrestling team had a dual with Shawnee Heights canceled when roads became too icy to drive to Tecumseh. Swimming meets and bowling tournaments have felt the pain, as well.
In fact, Shawnee Mission North and Shawnee Mission Northwest were prepared to bowl at the Turner Invitational on Thursday despite classes being called off, but the Turner school district wouldn’t allow its team to compete. Making matters worse, Turner’s home alley — Ranch Bowl in Kansas City, Kan. — caught fire last month so the tournament will be relocated to Lawrence.
The repercussions of the cancellations will be felt beyond the regular season. Some games — such as St. James’ make-up date against Harmon — will take place after the Class 4A substate brackets are set. The absence of the game could alter the substate seedings. This could be the case for Class 5A and Class 6A schools as well if games are unable to be made up at all.
Regardless of games being rescheduled or eliminated altogether, the decision to cancel school and sporting events boils down to one thing: Safety.
“My main concern is making sure our kids are safe if they have to travel, and that our parents and fans aren’t put in a bad situation of trying to follow our teams,” Hilton said.