As wave after wave of wicked winter weather has sliced through Southern Indiana, high school athletic directors have simultaneously reached for the telephone and the Tylenol.
Headaches abound, as do the postponements and cancellations that have plagued sports teams across the region. With each round of school closings, more events are pushed back. Some will not be made up as the Indiana High School Athletic Association postseason looms for wrestling, swimming and girls’ basketball.
Athletic schedules have been altered to the point of being useless. Basketball officials are in demand. The pace of making changes has been chaotic.
“It’s the worst I’ve seen in 16 years,” New Albany’s Don Unruh said. “Nothing has come close to what this winter has been like.”
Larry Richmer has been in charge of Silver Creek programs for 25 years, and he echoed Unruh’s assessment. “It has certainly been interesting,” he said.
The damage can snowball. The decision to postpone or cancel an event, keeping student and fan safety in mind, is not taken lightly. Once that judgment has been made, the phone calls — to game officials, school workers, team members and coaches, media and support personnel — begin.
In the revenue-generating sports, the ADs are facing a potential $4,000 to $5,000 loss if a home game is not rescheduled. Other sports, including freshman teams, are equally affected.
“It’s just the top of the iceberg,” Providence’s Mickey Golembeski said. “It makes you gun-shy. This is worse than any spring calamity we’ve had.”
In basketball, most area schools have had to move five or six games later on the schedule. Any more postponements — particularly in girls’ basketball, with only one week remaining in the regular season — will result in cancellations of those events.
Boys’ basketball is approaching that threshold of no return.
Jeffersonville, Charlestown, Corydon and Floyd Central will all play nine games in February. In the Hoosier Hills Conference, Bedford North Lawrence will play 10 in that span — nearly half the allowed regular-season allotment of 20 plus a tournament. By comparison, the Indiana Pacers will play 12 in the same time frame.
Silver Creek will have six games from Feb. 13 to 25, and Rock Creek will play six games from Feb. 6 to 22. Providence has moved an originally scheduled home game with Austin to Austin’s gym, just to get the game completed.
“We’re doing what we have to do,” Golembeski said. “There is no room on the schedule. If anything else gets canceled, it’s going to be impossible to make that game up. We have filled in all of our gaps.”
Playing during the week is an option, but IHSAA rules limit mid-week games to two. Playing on Saturday afternoons reduces attendance. So the options are few, and none are too palatable.
“It’s harder to reschedule a game than it is to schedule one to begin with,” first year Jeffersonville AD Todd Satterly said.
The ones who actually enjoy the logjam? The players. Missing practices and playing multiple games in succession is their dream week.
“You get into an NBA schedule,” said first-year Charlestown AD and former Jeffersonville coach Chad Gilbert. “As a coach, if you’re playing your best basketball, you like playing a lot at the end of the year. I felt it kept our kids more tuned in. Players tend to lose interest this time of year, so it will keep them dialed in.”
The athletes might be dialed in, but the ADs are just dialing, looking for licensed officials (who are booked up with so many rescheduled games crammed together), talking to their counterparts, searching for ways to make everything work. One ear is glued to the phone, the other is listening to weather forecasts, gathering information to plan for another worst-case scenario.
“You learn pretty quickly you have to be a meteorologist,” Satterly said.