Heavy snowfall and dangerously cold temperatures teamed up to cast a cloud of uncertainty over Johnson County when it came to high school athletics events this week.
Coaches, athletics directors and the athletes themselves were left to sit, wait and hope.
Edinburgh, at the county’s southern edge, managed to maintain a sense of scheduling normalcy despite missing school Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and having two-hour delays Thursday and Friday.
Some 20 miles to the northwest, Center Grove wasn’t nearly as fortunate.
“It was a Christmas (vacation) bonus week,” said Center Grove athletics director Jon Zwitt, who found himself working his office phone in efforts to reschedule postponed events. “We’ve had ice before, and we’ve had cold before, but this is the first time we’ve had this combination since (the blizzard of) 1978.
“We’ve had some mild winters the past few years, and a lot of these teenagers have never seen or driven in weather like this.”
Both boys and girls basketball games originally scheduled for Friday night against Carmel were postponed an almost unheard of nearly 48 hours in advance.
The boys game has been rescheduled for Jan. 28 at Carmel. The girls host the Greyhounds on Feb. 5.
“When I got the call we were going to be out of school Thursday, I called (Center Grove boys coach) Cliff (Hawkins) and (girls coach) Shawn (Sanders) and said, ‘Do you think your team feels physically and mentally strong enough to play the game?’” Zwitt said. “They both said they could do it, but it just wouldn’t be in anyone’s best interest.”
Greenwood boys basketball coach Bruce Hensley was able to conduct practices as early as Wednesday. The Woodmen, however, weren’t scheduled to play their next game until hosting Whiteland tonight.
“It really wasn’t as bad for us because we didn’t play Friday,” Hensley said. “Just wondering about practice times, that’s the biggest thing. I think the kids missed it, too. It doesn’t take too long to get out of shape, so we did a lot of full-court work Wednesday and Thursday, and they responded pretty well.”
Franklin’s boys basketball team also benefited by not playing Friday. The 6-1 Grizzly Cubs last played Jan. 3 (a 67-60 victory at Decatur Central) and are back in action today at 5:30 p.m. when they host Mooresville.
Second-year Franklin coach Jerry Bomholt is in his 33rd season of coaching overall — long enough to understand practice and game hiatuses, planned or otherwise, are part of the job.
“We go through stretches where if we play a Friday-Saturday doubleheader, we’ll always take the following Monday off,” Bomholt said. “Over the course of the season, that extra day over the years seems to help keep kids fresh toward the end of the season.
“We didn’t get to practice Monday or Tuesday, but on Wednesday the players were anxious to get back to practice.”
Whiteland athletics director Ken Sears was a Warriors senior during the aforementioned 1977-78 school year. He better than most understands that while the past week certainly contained rough patches, it could have been worse.
“It wasn’t a heavy (sports) week for us, anyway. We had a wrestling meet at Brown County on Thursday, so we postponed that and are in their invitational (today),” said Sears, who also had to reschedule girls basketball and girls and boys swimming events. “This past spring was so rough with the rain, but in Indiana it sort of is what it is.
“It’s just part of the game.”
From a coach’s perspective, wondering whether an upcoming opponent has managed to work in practice sessions while you remain idle also is a factor.
Center Grove’s girls basketball team played two games at the Brownsburg Tournament on Dec. 27. The Trojans were scheduled to host Whiteland on Tuesday and Carmel on Friday. The Whiteland game has been moved to this afternoon, with a noon junior varsity game and a 1:30 varsity start.
“Obviously, you’ve worked all fall to get your conditioning to where you can compete at a high level,” Sanders said. “This is by far the longest break we’ve taken. For most coaches, you’re always wondering what the other programs are doing. I was OK until Wednesday, because I knew some other teams were practicing.
“I was OK Monday and Tuesday, but on Wednesday I knew Carmel was practicing, and that bothered me.”
Coaches and athletics directors recognize mid-season form might not be a realistic pursuit during upcoming games and meets due to the lack of practice time.
“I think just speaking for the players, they were really ready to get going again,” Sanders said. “Dec. 27 was a long time ago, and I think they’re ready to get back to playing good basketball.”
With the snow slowly melting away, it’s the calm after the storm. This also applies to those doing the scheduling and rescheduling.
“I told somebody that I’ve sent so many e-mails and received so many e-mails, I don’t know what I sent and what I received,” first-year Edinburgh athletics director David Walden said. “(Last Sunday) I had my phone numbers and my contingency plans. I started making calls Monday morning.
“That’s one of the things I learned working for (Greenwood athletics director) Pete Huse is, ‘Who do I need to call?’ and to have those numbers available at all times.”