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Rain and snow cause dilemma for Sandy coaches

Living in Oregon, coaches have to learn to deal with the weather and how it affects their teams, but it doesn't make it any easier.

At Sandy High School, especially this year, rain and/or snow outs have been later in the season and have been tougher on the outdoor sports.

'With the overlap of winter and spring sports, early season practices can be crucial,' Sandy baseball coach Garet Luebbert said. 'Occasionally, a rained out practice can fall on a day where it is just what is needed, but typically they are nuisance.'

The weather has been less considerate this season as rain and snow has fallen consistently until almost April effecting both the baseball and softball teams respectfully.

When rain cancels practices, teams are forced to move their practices inside to either gym a or b at Sandy High School. When they move inside, the softball, baseball and both tennis teams share the gyms.

'We end up sharing limited gym availability or have to cancel practices all together,' Luebbert said. 'When the gym is available, it can be as late as 8 or 9 and we have to share the two gyms with over 45 kids.'

Girls tennis coach Greg Thorson agrees with coach Luebbert.

'When we are rained out, so is baseball and softball and it makes for a scheduling nightmare when we all have to use the gym. Not having indoor tennis courts any closer than 30 minutes away, plus having to be members of those gyms, it makes it especially tough on us.'

The baseball team opened the season with consecutive victories over Jesuit and Parkrose on March 11 and 12 and has not played since. It will be twenty days since they played a game when they open Mount Hood Conference play on April 2, if the weather allows.

'Consistent rain-outs can take their toll on our team,' Luebbert said. 'We can get things done practicing inside, but they are not the most efficient practices due to our limitations of space and resources.'

The softball team has played two games, defeating Milwaukie on March 21 and lost their opening game on March 12. It will have been ten days since they last played when they played on Monday. Head coach Laurie Smallwood knows the differences in practice can be a challenge to her team.

'I cannot deny that the feel of an inside practice is different than being outside for obvious reasons. It can also be a little challenging to keep the kids motivated after being indoors for the past two weeks.'

Rainouts can have an adverse effect on teams, with limited practices or game type situations; teams can be behind schedule when league play begins. Coaches are forced to deal with it and spring sports are more affected by rainouts than any other season.

''We have to get creative,' Luebbert said. 'If we aim to get better everyday, making the most out of being indoors is very important. Communication with the administration and other spring coaches is also extremely important.'

Unfortunately, especially living in Oregon, rain/snow outs are a part of life and force coaches to deal with postponements and cancellations. Many Portland area baseball and softball programs have begun upgrading with turf and indoor facilities.

'I'm not sure there is an ultimate solution that would fix the weather in Oregon, but putting in a turf field or building more indoor facilities would have a dramatic impact,' Luebbert said. 'This is an easy way to see a positive impact that they can have on programs and community for kids of all ages.'

Thorson agrees, but can see an option to help the tennis programs at Sandy.

'It would be so good if we had two of our courts covered, not enclosed, just covered where we could practice and play in inclement weather,' Thorson said. 'We get weather postponements or cancellations about 30-40% of the time in the spring so it is much tougher for are programs.'