Handling a Snowy Situation: Teams Cope with Copious Postponements

Doug Beaupre was in Boston visiting relatives yesterday, but he couldn’t get away from his job as Newport High athletic director.

That was because of the snowstorm wreaking havoc with travel and scheduling for his Newport boys basketball team.

“It’s crazy,” Beaupre said as he spoke on his cell phone on a Boston train while trying to trying to determine where and when his boys basketball team will be playing the next round of the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College.

“I know we have no game (yesterday), and it looks like we’re going to play at 11:30 (today). What I do know for sure is that it’s cold and rainy here.”

Holiday tournaments keep the kids busy, give families a place to meet and give fans a chance to watch some interesting matchups between area schools.

But therein lies the problem ... and the confusion.

For example, when the Stevens girls play Bellows Falls today in the Terriers’ holiday event, the game will count in the standings for Bellows Falls, but is nothing more than a scrimmage for Stevens. In the Granite State, the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association does not recognize holiday tourneys.

At Kearsarge High yesterday, Scott Fitzgerald, the Cougars’ director of athletics, was on the job trying to figure out when his boys and girls basketball teams would be resuming their respective tourneys in Concord — even though the games are meaningless in the state standings.

“Even if these games got cancelled, it wouldn’t mean anything,” he said.

If the games mean something for one team and not the other, that sometimes leads to uneven play on the court, and an interesting dilemma for coaches when it comes to playing time.

When Carl Desilets coached the Stevens girls in holiday games at Bellows Falls, he played the games to win. But at the same time, he would use these games to get all his players plenty of playing time. And sometimes, he would not always have his best players on the floor with the game on the line, perhaps costing his team a victory.

It leaves open the question of competitive fairness — especially to other teams playing all out. Thus a Vermont team could sometimes pick up an uncontested win that could either affect the standings or make a difference if a team qualifies or not for the playoffs.

Jayne Barber, who coached the Bellows Falls girls for many years, could never understand why Stevens would play in a Vermont tourney.

“I thought it was nice that they were from close by and brought fans that helped the sponsoring booster club,” she said.

“However, I thought the fact that the game mattered to us and not to them didn’t seem right. (The Stevens coach) had two games where he could schmooze his players and their parents. That’s nice for him, but is it fair?”