Sunday, February 18, 2007
John Russell's sports column appears Sundays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by John here.
Steamboat Springs After Friday's blowing snow and icy roads, the possibility of having an early spring might seem unlikely.
But the weather has nothing to do with the season when it comes to high school sports. For example, Tuesday marks the first official day of the high school spring sports season.
Of course, the start of the season has never been a reason to pull the Bermuda shorts out of the closet and head outside in Steamboat (unless you enjoy frostbite).
In this mountain town, we are still dealing with snow and cold. That explains why high school teams in Steamboat spend the first few weeks of the spring season inside the protective walls of a gym. The only time they get on a field is when they travel to away games.
But I would be willing to bet the farm spring is going to arrive early for the student athletes in our town. They soon will realize the value of the school's new artificial turf field when they begin playing soccer, baseball and lacrosse on a field - outside! - at the same time as other teams across the state.
"The beginning of the season is always exciting," Steamboat Springs High School lacrosse coach Bob Hiester said. "But this is like adding a little bit of frosting on the cake."
The coach says the new field will expand what he can teach his players in the early part of the season and should make the squad more competitive.
He also knows weather will continue to play a huge role in the high school's spring season, along with the demand for field space. The new field will be shared by soccer, lacrosse, baseball and track. Cold temperatures and spring storms might also force teams back inside from time to time.
But playing outside in the spring, on a field in Steamboat, is something student athletes and coaches in our town have never experienced.
Once the snow is cleared from the new all-weather surface this spring, athletes will be rewarded with an option they haven't had in the past.
Soccer coach Rob Bohlmann doesn't expect the new field to make his team more competitive, but it will level the playing field in early part of the season.
"The field was a necessity," Bohlmann said. "But I think it's going to feel more like a luxury for our players. We were always competitive, but this field is going to make spring more enjoyable."
Bohlmann said the team will start in the gym this week and travel to Grand Junction for a preseason training camp. But when the team returns from Blues Break, he expects to be on the field in Steamboat Springs.
Personally, I don't like artificial surfaces. I enjoy watching football and soccer players wallowing in the mud. I enjoy the site of grass-stained uniforms and the feeling under my feet when I step on natural grass.
But if an artificial field means that students can expand their athletic experience in Steamboat, that one less game will be canceled this spring and that our teams can spend more time at home, then I guess it's alright.
Who knows, I might even pull those Bermuda shorts out of my closet a few weeks early.