Written by Hillsboro Free Press Tuesday, 17 April 2007 14:43
“No, I really haven’t seen a season quite like this one,” Heinrichs said. “We’ve had our trouble (the past few years) with our James Thomas Invitational track meet, but nothing like this.
“We’re just struggling to find (alternate) dates,” he added. “It’s getting to be critical that we don’t lose anything else, because we’re getting to the end. I know in baseball it’s really critical because of the pitching and how long it takes to recover.”
Heinrichs said May is already “totally full” of games until regionals.
“Right now we have one date we can add a game—and I don’t know if we’ll want to make up the Halstead (baseball) games (that were rained out April 10). If we put that date in, we’re full.”
Heinrichs’ baseball dilemma would have been even tougher if head coach Phil Oelke hadn’t suggested pushing up his team’s doubleheader with Smoky Valley one day to Thursday—in advance of Friday’s predicted rain and snow.
As a result, those two games actually were completed.
An additional challenge for rescheduling baseball and softball games is finding umpires. With junior varsity games scheduled in, too, Heinrichs said there are just too few umpires available to fill all the slots.
“I’d encourage young people, like Tabor students, to get into (umpiring),” Heinrichs said. “There are jobs out there just waiting for them.
“If you’re a baseball or softball umpire and have two games a week, that’s $200 a week. In a month you can earn $800. There’s a lot of people who don’t make $100 a day. And you can do that in four hours.”
Heinrichs said scheduling issues for the Trojan tennis and golf teams haven’t been critical so far. Track and softball offer a bit more flexibility than baseball, but even then you’re courting trouble if you bunch too many events together.
“For track, you’re asking a kid to have three great performances in one week (as regionals approach),” Heinrichs said. “That’s pretty tough.
“Golf and tennis, I think we can do it. But the baseball, softball and track is definitely getting to a critical point.”
Heinrichs said while teams and coaches prefer to get in a full slate of games and compete for a league title, they have a bigger goal in mind—and are willing to drop a few regular-season competitions to achieve it.
“The goal is to get to your regional and play your best (at the end of the season) and qualify for state,” Heinrichs said.
“I’m lucky to work with great coaches,” he added. “They understand that, too, and we’ve talked about it. They know that as the season gets closer to the end, we might have to drop some (games), but it’s going to give us a better chance of having healthy people playing at regional time.”
Heinrichs said one good thing about the current situation is that schools across the state are dealing with the same issues.
In fact, Heinrichs said he discovered at a meeting of league athletic directors last week that some teams had not gotten in any games yet this season.
“We’re all fighting the same struggle,” he said. “We got to the AD meeting the other day and all kind of felt sorry for each other.
“We’re so lucky to be in a good league because we all work together pretty well. We want to give the kids the best we can. It works out pretty well most of the time.”