Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer
Schools across the Front Range were closed on Wednesday following threats made by an 18-year-old woman from Florida to Columbine High School and other schools in the area. With the schools being closed, all extracurricular activities for the day were canceled or postponed.
That marks another day in which high school sports have had to change their schedule due to the schools being closed.
The spring season typically sees the most change with the schedule due to the weather or other circumstances, but athletic directors say this spring has been one of the trickier ones in recent history.
“I’ve done this for seven years and this is one of the worst years that I remember,” Niwot athletic director Chase McBride said. “I had one year before where the bad weather came in late April, but this year the uniqueness is that it all happened at the start of the season.”
For athletics, many teams are already behind on the schedule and are trying to make up games postponed in the early portion of the season. Add in spring break and other religious holidays that schools try to work around when they can, and the season typically sees a lot of movement in order to get all the games in.
When games are postponed, athletic directors from the schools try to work together in order to find a new time to play. Finding a new date does not come easy with league bylaws, field conditions and other factors weighing in on the final decision.
“The biggest thing is notifying those involved, from the schools to the officials and even the people running gates and concessions, to let them know that something isn’t happening,” Silver Creek athletic director Kyle Schuyler said. “When you reschedule, you have to weigh the (competition) level, and with league matchups making sure you follow the bylaws with how quickly you have to reschedule.”
With early cancellations, some schools are expected to see a back-loaded schedule that could result in weeks where teams will play to up to four games per week in order to fit all of their games on the schedule during the regular season. Should any more factors that result in postponements come up, the schools say they will either have to get creative in rescheduling games or make tough decisions on keeping the games in place.
“We’re maxed out. If we have another storm or a couple of cancellations, we’re really going to have to think long and hard about what games to play,” McBride said. “League games are usually the priority, so a nonconference game may not get in if that’s the case… We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be OK at this point, but you’re always worried about it.”
Already a number of events have been cancelled entirely this spring ranging from track meets to the Chilly Chili golf tournament hosted by Broomfield High School. Many lower-level programs have seen a drop in the number of games they play and are usually the ones hit the most with losing events.
“We are in that boat right now with our lower-level scheduling,” Centaurus athletic director Emmy Murphy said. “We want our lower-level teams to get a full complement of games but the season typically runs short and they don’t get to.”
One of the ways the school districts try to work around the changes for all levels is using other facilities when needed. Some schools have flipped home venues in order to play a game due to field conditions, and the school districts have even worked together to play at neutral sites at other schools when necessary to get the games in.
The season is also tough for coaches and players as they are the ones that must work around their schedules in order to make the adjustments work.
“I think our coaches and kids understand Colorado weather,” Schuyler said. “Sometimes they’re not excited about it, but they tend to roll with the punches.”
Spring sports are scheduled to finish the regular season and begin their respective postseasons in May. Until then, all athletic directors in the state will be hard at work to get their kids the opportunities to play all of their games they were scheduled for this season.
“It feels like putting out fires and working in short time windows, but on the other end a bit of a blessing to collaborate with your peers,” Murphy said. “I’m on the phone and working with my fellow AD’s to make up games. We are all in the same boat. We want to do what is best for the kids but it is a challenge.”