By Jacqui Vautin
Spring seems to finally be arriving in Grinnell. Daffodil tips are poking through the dirt outside of Burling and the forecast is in the 70s for early next week. But in a town where weather can fluctuate from 27 to 75 in a matter of days, there is a possibility that winter could rear its ugly head again.
Winter has seemed interminable this year, and perhaps no one has felt this as acutely as Grinnell’s athletes, who have had to work around Mother Nature’s whims. Some sports, such as basketball and swimming, never have to face the elements during practice or competition, although they may experience delays traveling to or from games or meets.
“We got snowed in in Rockford, IL, my first year, when we were playing IC [Illinois College]. We hung out at the mall for three hours to kill time. I never want to go back to Rockford in my entire life,” said women’s basketball player Karen Gogins ’13.
Other teams have been forced to cancel or postpone competitions due to weather. Men’s golf had to cancel or postpone two tournaments this spring and were delayed in beginning to practice outside.
Baseball and softball stay inside and practice in the Fieldhouse until the snow has melted off the fields. The Fieldhouse becomes very crowded, as many other teams—in season and out of season—are sharing the same space.
“As an off-season athlete, it’s difficult to get into the Fieldhouse. You have to go in at odd hours of the day,” said football player Morgan Kinsinger ’14. For example, Ultimate has to resort to practicing from ten to eleven at night.
Baseball tarps their field in anticipation of rain or inclement weather: the entire infield gets covered with a heavy tarp. There must a balance of covering the field and allowing it to dry out.
The tarp patrol can be seen heading out at odd hours of the night or early morning in order to protect their field from precipitation.
“Tarping is especially fun when it’s extremely windy. It’s a struggle to keep the tarp down and it becomes a game with the weather. People get tossed, which is funny to watch,” said Matt Schaeffer ’14. “I haven’t been lifted off the ground before but I have seen people get lifted off.”
Cross-country and distance track brave the wind, the hail, the snow and the cold, practicing outdoors year-round. It doesn’t matter how cold it is; runners add a couple shirts, wrap a scarf around their faces, and head out to run. Snow flurries could be seen through April this year at meets and an announcer even joked that they would need to clear the ice off the steeplechase water pit.
“It’s terrible. You’re really dressed up in as many clothes as you can fit on your body and you still manage to lose all feeling in your hands and feet,” said Zack Angel ’15.
Soccer plays and practices in all sorts of weather, tracking mud into the locker rooms throughout the late fall.
However, most would agree that practicing in the cold is much preferable to practicing in the heat. Teams that come back early in August often deal with very warm temperatures while adjusting to two-a-day practices.
Football comes back to Grinnell the earliest, about two weeks before New Student Orientation.
“Right when you walk outside, you’re immediately soaked with sweat. There’s no way around it,” said Cody Weber ’13.
“Iowa summers are bound to be hot and humid. It’s always pretty rough when the sweat can’t evaporate off your body,” Kinsinger said.
The football coaches make sure not to keep players outside when the heat index is too high and players must make especially sure to stay hydrated.
“I just spray water on myself,” said Daniel Ryerson ’15.
Grinnell’s athletes are looking forward to May, one of the more pleasant months Iowa has to offer.
“I can’t wait to run outside,” said women’s basketball player Anne Boldt ’16.