Messy conditions lead to messy schedules for athletic teams

Blizzard freezes W&L athletics, forces teams to reschedule games and practices


Photo courtesy of W&L Sports Info.

Caroline Blackmon

While most students were busy celebrating the snowy weekend, Washington and Lee athletes were busy adjusting to changed schedules. Athletic events across campus were either cancelled or postponed because of the the inclement weather and unsafe travel conditions.

Men’s Basketball Head Coach Adam Hutchinson cancelled three practices and postponed a game against Randolph-Macon. Originally scheduled to play on Jan. 23, the Generals will now face off against the Yellowjackets on Feb. 8.

“The snow disrupted the normal rhythm of practicing and games,” Hutchinson said. “[But], nothing in sports ever goes exactly according to plan. The guys have been great about [adapting to] this.”

The women’s basketball team was also forced to postpone a game but the change was minor.  The team’s match-up against Lynchburg was moved from Jan. 23 to Jan. 24.

But players Andrea Ferrero, ’18, and Emma Redding, ’18, said the team almost had too much time to prepare for the game against Lynchburg. The Lady Generals went on to lose 65-48.

“In this particular game, we spent too much time thinking about it, so having another day made us overthink our game plan and opponents,” Ferrero said.

Though the swim team was able to reschedule its senior meet against VMI for Jan. 30, a number of seniors said they were unhappy about the change.

“I was upset about having to reschedule the senior meet because my parents were planning on coming in that weekend,” Captain Sarah Schaffer, ’16, said. “Many of us had to cancel our original plans for this weekend in order to adapt to the amended schedule.”

With ODACs approaching soon, swimmers see the coming weeks as ample time to rest. Rescheduling their meet against VMI by an entire week left some worried about their preparation for this important part of their season.

“Although it was great that we were able to reschedule [the meet], we don’t normally have a swim meet this close to conference,” Shaffer said. “So we’re a little more nervous about having to compete halfway through resting up for ODACs.”

While the rescheduled games were a nuisance to the indoor sports, the track and field teams were most affected by the winter weather. They were unable to practice outside from Jan. 22 to Jan. 25, and with their season just beginning, they needed to be more creative in order to practice.

“We adjusted to a more general workout they could do in the Fitness Center,” Men’s Track Head Coach Brandon Uhl, said. “[It was to ensure they stayed] active more than anything.”

The teams also practiced on different levels of Doremus Gym and finished practices with its regularly-scheduled lift in the weight room.

“We made use of the fifth floor balcony space for plyometrics, sprint drills and block work,” Women’s Track and Field Head Coach Dana Freeman said. “Several individuals also ran on the road by the law school.”

Beyond practices, the track and field teams had to give up a competition entirely as well. Major snowfall led to unsafe road conditions in the area so the team elected not to participate in a meet at Christopher Newport University — a trip that usually takes about three hours by bus. Because several of the teams competing were travelling locally, the meet went on as planned… without W&L represented.

“Every meet is important to the development of our student-athletes,” Uhl said. “The meets early in the season help our men get ready for championship meets later and put them in a position to be at their best.”

Going to a school like W&L in Virginia, however, means that coaches and some older athletes are used to frequent changes in practice and game schedules.

For Uhl and the other coaches, it’s about using the extra time wisely and not worrying too much about what might have happened if the snow hadn’t fallen. Plus, Uhl said, a number of athletes on the track and field team were sick from the norovirus and needed time to rest anyway.

“It comes down to how creative you can be in modifying training and making what can seem like a negative situation into a situation that could turn out to be a positive,” Uhl said. “Find the silver lining in the situation.”