Monday was the first day of practice for spring sports in the Columbia Basin, but instead of hearing the crack of the bat or feet pounding on the track, Mother Nature threw athletes a curve ball in the form of a few inches of snow.
Sunday and Monday’s snowfall added to the already deep layer covering ballfields and tracks, more than teams can shovel to make their fields usable.
“Larry (Usher, athletic director) is amazing,” Hermiston track coach Emilee Strot said Monday. “Last week he worked with the maintenance crew to clean off the track and field. Friday, they were out there, and then we got hit with more snow last night and today. If he hadn’t had that done, we’d have over a foot of snow out there. As it is, we now have 5 or 6 inches.”
Strot said she will have her team in the gym for practice until the snow is gone.
“We have worked out a schedule to get every team time in the gym,” she said. “I’m thankful my sport doesn’t have tryouts.”
While the sprinters and distance runners can do their thing indoors, the field event athletes, like javelin thrower Jazlyn Romero, are limited to drill work inside.
“When we get the runway cleared, she can throw in the snow,” Strot said.
In Irrigon, baseball coach Randy Henrichs said there is about four inches of snow on his field, but that is the least of his problems.
“With the wind, up against the backstop behind the plate, we have a 6-foot wall of snow built up,” he said. “When the snow stops and starts to melt, we will have to have a work party and get a backhoe out here.”
The Knights do have an indoor batting facility in a heated pole barn, and they have a portable pitching mound they can use in the gym.
“We’re going to do what we can, just like everybody else,” Henrichs said. “We have a game in three weeks.”
Or at least he hopes to.