How are coaches, athletes coping with the weather?

It’s been what seems like a long season for Milaca’s spring sports teams. And, it’s only the second week in April!

“Pretty much all practices have been indoors,” said athletic director Jerry Westphal Monday. “The postponements we’ve already had have made re-scheduling a nightmare.”

So, how have Milaca coaches and athletes been coping?

Let’s start with girls golf coach Heather Hoeck.

“Every practice has been inside so far,” said Hoeck Monday. “It’s hard practicing inside for many reasons. The hardest part is not knowing the ball projection.

“The girls are hitting into a net that is only a few feet in front of them. So, although the ball strike may sound good, or even bad, you have no idea exactly what kind of ball flight it would look like.

“We also try to do some chipping and putting technique, but unfortunately you are practicing on surfaces that are nothing like a golf course. The other downside is you never want players swinging and hitting balls continuously for two hours, which is pretty much what we are limited to doing in the gym. So, our practices have been short, half of what they usually are when we are outside.”

Anything else?

“I am guessing that our weather might be cold and wet for most of our season,” said Hoeck. “Golfing in cold/wet conditions is very different than golfing in warm/dry conditions. Without getting outside the girls are not getting a feel as to what it will be like playing nine holes when the temperature may only be as warm as 45 degrees.

“Skill-wise, we are going to be behind. On top of that, we are going to have less practice outdoors once we get going because many dates will be filled with make-up meets.”

Milaca’s girls are scheduled to open Monday, April 15, at Foley.

How are things going for the softball team?

“Inside practice goes OK for the first two weeks, or so,” said coach Randy Johnson. “But, we soon run out of different drills to keep the interest and effort at a high level.

“We have the ability to work on hitting technique but we really miss facing live pitching. Our pitchers have had the opportunity to work on fundamentals and build some endurance, but again, they need the feel of the dirt and being able to pitch to a hitter.

“We have been in the parking lot a few times to work on fly balls and outfield strategies but it’s very tough doing any infield work on a slippery, hard tar surface.”

Johnson was able to schedule a scrimmage against Sauk Rapids-Rice last Friday night at the Husky Dome in St. Cloud.

“Our pitchers looked good and we hit well later in the scrimmage,” said Johnson. “We’ve had some wet, cold springs before but I don’t remember anything quite like this, especially with the forecast calling for more poor weather. Can you really have a ‘winter storm watch’ when it’s officially spring?”

Johnson figures the weather and field conditions will likely affect his team’s schedule.

“Things are backing up quickly and it’s likely we will lose some non-conference games,” he said. “We’re trying to keep the team’s spirit up. We had a ‘Softball Olympics’ Monday night, a collection of games to create enthusiasm and team building.”

Milaca’s games through this week have been postponed. That’s five games so far.

The Wolves are scheduled to travel to Zimmerman Tuesday, April 16, then host Albany Thursday, April 18.

“The gyms and hallways at the school are not the most convenient or forgiving on the athletes’ legs,” said track and field co-coach Jeremy Mikla. “Being inside so much has meant that we have had to be creative with the types of training we do.

“Too much pounding on the hard gym and hallway floors tends to cause injuries such as shin splints to the lower legs. These injuries can take longer than the season lasts for the athletes to fully recover. Therefore, we have had workouts in the pool, plyometric workouts in the wrestling room and focused on developing core strength with workouts designed by (co-coach) Gwen Garber.

“Our distance runners have done the most work outside, running on the streets and the school parking lots. Our sprinters have been outdoors a little but it’s really difficult for the kids in field events to get any quality training opportunities.”

The Wolves competed at the Granite Ridge Conference Indoor Championships April 4 at the Becker Fieldhouse. Milaca is scheduled to travel to the outdoor Pierz Invitational Friday.

Milaca’s baseball team has been in the gym most of the time and coach Craig Talberg feels his team is coping with the late start pretty well.

“The guys have worked hard and have stayed focused,” said Talberg. “We’ve been able to get outside for some throwing and fly balls in the parking lot. The field  is pretty wet but, like other teams, we’re anxious to play some ball.”

Milaca’s games through this week have been postponed. The Wolves are scheduled to host Zimmerman Tuesday, April 16.

Weather permitting.

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