This March certainly lived up to the old saying, "In like a Lion," and I suppose things are fairly mild enough at the moment to say it's going, "Out like a lamb." However, with MIAC spring sports teams chomping at the bit to open conference play it feels much more like we're going up against the always-intimidating "Ides of March."
Most of the conference softball openers have been postponed, and tomorrow was supposed to be MIAC Opening Day for our baseball teams, and all those games have been postponed as well, and we're already starting to worry about Wednesday's slate as well. Basically, it feels like the MIAC office, all our spring teams and all our dedicated umpires are being held hostage by Mother Nature. Hopefully someone pays the ransom soon and we can get on with the games!
However, I'm already starting to feel optimistic about next spring. My first year in the MIAC office was 2010-11, and that was an equally troubling spring, that was aided by the collapse of the Metrodome, which knocked out our one indoor baseball option. But last spring was incredible ... some 80-degree days in March, zero snow-outs and very few rain-outs. I'm thinking this is starting to be an "every other year" cycle, so we'll put our heads down and push through all the 2013 rescheduling efforts while optimistically assuming things will be better next year. If there's wood near you, knock on it for us.
One prevailing thought I've had during our back luck with the weather this "spring" (I have to sarcastically put spring in quotes because really, this is still winter) is the delay of a much-anticipated event - the opening of the new baseball stadium at Saint John's University.
When Target Field opened in 2010, I was still the sports information director at Dakota Wesleyan University and living in Mitchell, S.D. However, I opened up the pocketbook for opening day tickets a few months prior and figuratively kept my fingers crossed for about three months that the fateful day would be met with weather at least acceptable enough for the game to take place. With my work responsibilities, I had opening day off, but likely couldn't have stuck around for a make-up game.
Fortunately, the weather was beautiful that day. I was perfectly comfortable wearing shorts and a Twins jersey, and a full stadium enjoyed a win over the Boston Red Sox. However, Johnnie fans who have been anticipating the opening of their new field aren't quite as fortunate as Twins fans were in 2010. The new field is slated to host its first contest Wednesday, when Carleton is scheduled to visit Collegeville for a MIAC doubleheader at 2:30 p.m. However, one look outside makes that seem doubtful.
There have to be few things more frustrating for Johnnie coaches, players and fans, than to spend all year pining for the home opener at their new field, only to have winter linger around like an annoying, uninvited guest. Fortunately, the new turf field should recover better than a natural surface, and it's a bet the SJU crew is working overtime to get their new field ready to play. Hopefully they'll get to enjoy their new field very, very soon.
I was lucky enough to get a tour of the new facility during a visit to the SJU campus in November. Athletic director Tom Stock took the MIAC staff onto the new SprinTurf field and into the dugouts. We were impressed then, and are excited to see game action there this spring.
|A virtual look at SJU baseball's new home.|
Fans who have been to either of the last two MIAC Playoffs were surprised to see an ALL turf field at Veterans Field in Minnetonka - including the pitching mound and batter's boxes. SJU's new stadium has the same setup, which makes for easier field maintenance and a better chance to play through Minnesota's unpredictable weather. The new surface will play a little faster than natural grass, but should have truer hops, and SJU pulled its fences in a little around the outfield which could result in a few more balls leaving the park in Collegeville.
The new stadium will take a few years to be completely finished. The field, dugouts and everything needed for games are ready to go for 2013, with a grandstand and plaza in the works as well. To learn all the details, read the informative press release by SJU Sports Information Director Ryan Klinkner.
There are a few games taking place this weekend. Augsburg softball has been able to host its first two conference doubleheaders in its dome yesterday and today. For all the information on this crazy spring, stay tuned to the MIAC web site and the MIAC scoreboard.
Finally, as we exit March and all hope for drastic weather improvements in April, I'd like to offer one final round of applause to the dedicated and talented athletic trainers in the MIAC. March is National Athletic Training Month, and for the second year in a row, the MIAC has worked to spotlight the efforts of the professionals and student workers that keep our athletes safe and healthy. This year, we put out two MIAC Friday Features about the MIAC athletic trainers and student athletic trainers, and Jim Rakow of Augsburg and Twin Cities Orthopedics joined the MIAC Media Podcast earlier this month as well.
Thanks to the athletic trainers for all you do, and to everyone else, if you learn one thing this month, remember that there's a big difference between "trainers" and "athletic trainers." Often the two are lumped into one big group, but the medical professionals rushing onto a field or court to care for an injured student-athlete are markedly different from the health and fitness expert at your local gym. Just being aware of the difference between the two will help NATM resonate as a success!
Happy Easter and sit tight ... we'll have baseball and softball soon (we hope)! As always, comments and emails are welcome! If you have any MIAC questions, send them my way and I'll be glad to answer in my next blog post.