Rain (Ice, Snow), Go Away: Postponements Send ADs Scrambling

Lebanon Basketball's Nic Shepherd, 18, center, and Mascoma High School Basketball's Matthew Quow, 18, play basketball during a pick up game at the CCBA in in Lebanon, N.H.,  on Jan. 6, 2014. School, sports games, and practices were cancelled for both Lebanon and Mascoma, but players from each team still found some time for an impromptu practice.
Valley News - Sarah Priestap

Lebanon Basketball's Nic Shepherd, 18, center, and Mascoma High School Basketball's Matthew Quow, 18, play basketball during a pick up game at the CCBA in in Lebanon, N.H., on Jan. 6, 2014. School, sports games, and practices were cancelled for both Lebanon and Mascoma, but players from each team still found some time for an impromptu practice. Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

Claremont — Monday morning, Newport Middle High School athletic director Doug Beaupre was dealing with a situation that confronts all athletic officials this time of year — sharing his time between his full-time job as the school’s athletic director and his part-time position as weather prognosticator.

Beaupre sat in his Newport office with rain coming down, temperatures in the 30s and rising. Sounds safe enough to send a bus full of female basketball players to Fall Mountain for a game that night, right?

Well, maybe.

“What has to be taken into consideration is what the road conditions will be when the game is over,” said Beaupre. “We have to not only get the people on bus home, but the fans that follow the team as well.”

He was also concerned with the road from N.H. Route 12 in Charlestown that weaves though the woods to Fall Mountain. “I know that road can be tricky,” he said.

Long story short: Game postponed. A dozen other games involving Upper Valley teams found the same fate, as was the case for 16 contests last Thursday.

To the athletic directors involved, every decision is based on safety first.

“We have to be concerned about our athletes after they get back to the school from road games,” said Woodstock athletic director Jeff Thomas. “We have kids that live in Pomfret, Bridgewater and other towns. Some are 20-25 miles from the school. We have to make sure their journey is safe.”

The recent spate of postponements has already hampered scheduling through the rest of the winter season, even though the basketball campaign is just in its first few of weeks.

“The NHIAA likes us to reschedule the next day, if possible,” said Stevens athletic director Aaron House. “But sometimes making that work for both teams doesn’t always pan out.”

House can schedule the games, but the superintendent’s office must produce the postponements. That was the case on Monday where the superintendent, Middleton McGoodwin, canceled all after-school activities in the entire SAU 6 district.

Canceling games is one thing, but canceling practices also leads to problems. “Our boys team has played just one game, and they need to get some practices, so I allowed the teams to practice on Sunday,” said House. “I was not going to say no to that.”

Because most New Hampshire teams play on Tuesdays and Fridays, games are rarely scheduled for Saturday.

“We might be leveraging for some games on Saturday, and I would think that would be a good thing,” said House, who was a bit surprised to find out that Vermont teams regularly schedule a lot of Saturday games, in addition to Tuesdays and Thursdays. “We need to find a way so that we don’t have to have back-to-back games.”

Which is what happens on a Tuesday-Friday schedule if games must be canceled. What also happens is that the schedule gets overwhelmed.

Hank Tenney, the Rivendell girls hoop coach, has seen his girls play just twice this season. With Monday’s postponements — the Raptors had a road trip to Woodsville nixed by the slippery roads — his team will now play four times this week.

“We don’t get any prep time when these things happen,” Tenney said. “All we do is play games.”

Woodstock’s Thomas appears to have the biggest dilemma. “Next week, we have the girls scheduled for four games — Jan 13, 14, 16 and 18, including road games to Green Mountain and Poultney,” he said. “Then in February, they have three games in one week — Feb. 3, 4, and 6. We always try to avoid scheduling back-to-back games, but it’s just not always possible.”

Most athletic directors rely on several sources of weather reports to make postponement decisions.

“I take into consideration the travel route and check on weather reports on weather.com and the radar report on my phone,” said Kearsarge AD Scott Fitzgerald. “I’ve become pretty adept at reading weather reports.”

At Newport, Beaupre deals with whatever radar info he can find as well. He also relies on information obtained by bus coordinator Diane Callum.

“She has become quite a meteorologist,” said Beaupre.

In Woodstock, Thomas relies a lot on horticulture teacher John Hiers. “He really keeps track of the weather and is a great source to go to,” Thomas said.

When a the game is postponed, there is still a lot of work for the ADs. “I try to call all of the officials personally as well as contact Steve Rossetti, who assigns the officials,” said Beaupre. “Then I have to contact the newspapers, bus coordinator, booster club — if it‘s a home game — EMTs and police department.”

Beaupre also has to notify the school’s administrative assistant so postponemenbt information can be put on the school website.

As far as that Newport-Fall Mountain girls game scheduled for Monday in Langdon, it was postponed and rescheduled for Feb. 5.

Weather permitting.