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When rain is a pain, it's time for turf

'April showers bring May flowers."

You could almost set your calendar by it each year. You expected wind in March then pretty wet in April before good spring weather in May. Even though April was considered wet, the temperatures still climbed to a tolerable level to stay outside. What happens when your winter goes well in to March and spring gets delayed even more?

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These last two years have been enough to make this old Bird want to fly south for the winter. I'm not a fan of cold weather in the first place, but what the weatherman has done to us recently is just plain dirty. Record low temperatures and record high snow levels just keep beating us like a Mike Tyson right hook.

Inevitably the snow has melted and the frost is gone for this year, but the effects of the lingering winter and the saturation of our local fields has wreaked havoc on our spring sports schedule and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

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With threatening rain all week, we were still able to get games in before the weather left its mark, but there were other games and meets across the county that had to be canceled and will now have to be rescheduled.

I understand having to cancel games due to weather because we spend a lot of money on maintaining our county fields and we want to try to preserve them as long as possible. McDaniel College has been very supportive of the local high school sports, even hosting a JV lacrosse playday on their stadium's turf field, just so that we can get some field time in before our regular season started.

What happens is that with state-mandated start times to the varsity playoff rounds starting so early in May, the more games that have to be rescheduled for wet fields will certainly create a logjam of games leading up to the official cutoff date for regular season play. There are restrictions on the number of games you can play each week which also adds to the athletic directors' headaches.

It's already a very tight schedule in the spring. I'm a fall guy, so this has been quite an eye-opening experience. With fall sports, your tryouts and summer practices are done, well, in the summer. Very few times did we have to cancel or postpone a practice.

With my recent foray into spring sports, just the sheer logistics of trying to find a place to practice has been a nightmare. Our spring teams have done the best they can with lacrosse teams on the stadium parking lots and sometimes indoors at Carroll Indoor Sports Center. Our baseball and softball teams had to occupy every possible available gym space.

When's the last time you had to evaluate players without being able to really hit the ball or take pop flies? And it's not unusual to see our track teams running through the hallways of the schools on rainy afternoons.

We're almost to the point where in order to get all of the games in to meet the deadline, we will have to start looking at alternative locations for many of our late season games. Any more rainouts and the inevitable become unavoidable. So then, what are our options?

Just over the line in to Howard County we can get on the fields at Western Regional Park, Blandair Park, Cedar Lane and Covenant Park. We can also go to Hammond, Atholton or Howard high schools. In Frederick County we may be able to get on the fields at Ballenger Creek Park or schools that have available turf fields like Urbana (2), Oakdale, Middletown and now Frederick high schools.

Baltimore County has Reisterstown Regional Park and Meadowood Regional Park, as well as fields at Franklin and a number of other popping up on high school campuses.

I know there have been attempts at trying to address the synthetic turf field in our area and, in fact, I've been invited to attend a few of their meetings. It's time that we put more emphasis on making this happen sooner rather than later before we waste any more precious tax dollars.

I learned in business school not to throw good money at bad money. Don't you think it's time we stopped wasting good money taking care of bad fields and spend the money on replacing at least some of the county fields with a synthetic field option?

C.E. Stowe, son of the famous author Harriet Beecher Stowe, once said, "Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done."

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It's time this county got some common sense toward our field issues.

Don't you think?

410-857-8552

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