On the Bench with Byron Higgin

Gotta do what works

Gotta do what works When the Winter Sports Season ended, who turned on their crystal ball to foresee the series of events that would cause chaos and near ruin of the Spring Sports Season?

While most of us were busy turning the page from Winter Sports to the Spring Edition, we paid little attention to the reality that was about to smack us squarely across the face.

Things like snow ... wind ... hail ... lightning ... thunder ... ice and more snow quickly turned us away from spring.

As we dreamt about the days of birds chirping merrily above us in the trees as we watched the ball fly through the air, kids land in the soft sand of the long jump pit or balls gliding across the fresh, green grass toward a small hole, mother nature reared her ugly head again and again, peppering our dreams of spring with a solid dose of reality.

Depression set in as coaches began to wonder how to keep their kids interested in sports despite the fact they could only practice indoors and never get a shot at rollicking in the afternoon sun.

Even the coaches were fighting their own depression. Hey, we realize this may be small potatoes compared to the farmers who are wondering if their fields will be ready for planting before it’s too late to plant effectively.

But to young athletes, this is their world for now — and Old Man Winter is their enemy.

To alleviate the boredom of kids jumping over hurdles in the hallways, or baseball players pitching off fake pitcher’s mounds to a catcher in the other side of the gym, or golfers swinging without making contact with a ball ... some coaches invented new ways to keep young athletes interested.

Softball Coach Heidi Boerboom took her girls outside, into the snow, where they played a game of softball in the snow. Diving into base was a lot of fun and the girls had smiles on their faces as they caught the yellow softball, sometimes while standing up to their kneecaps in snow.

They may not have worked much on fundamentals, but Boerboom was able to inject a few moments of fun and laughter into what otherwise has become mundane and monotonous.

Or take Golf Coach Greg Gile, who first took his kids to Marshall to a “simulated” golf course at the Brau Brothers restaurant and brewery. Then, he brought in former ladies professional golfer Emily Roering to speak to the golfers and to give them valuable tips.

Then there is baseball Coach Keven Larson’s attempts to keep his baseball team focused. He took them to the K. P. Kompelien baseball field covered with a foot or more or snow and announced they were welcome only as long as they brought a snow shovel with them.

The idea was to shovel the base paths and allow easier access for the sun to reach and melt the field. It was a great idea and somewhat worked.

But put young men on a snow-filled field with the sun on their backs and what you get are half-naked players throwing snowballs at each other. But even that was a nice deviation from the normal hum-drum of indoor baseball practice.

One player said it was, “Fun,” and he enjoyed it. Larson and his baseball staff also scheduled a pair of games Monday at Augustana College in Sioux Falls. The college has a turf field so Minneota, Lac qui Parle Valley and Red Rock Central/W-WG took the opportunity to get a couple of games in.

Meanwhile, inventive track coaches found a way to re-vamp track meets by eliminating events on soggy fields, moving some shotput events indoors, scuttling some events and allowing everyone an opportunity to run in any event just to get the kids outside and running.

On Monday, the track team went to a meet in Pipestone. It was a beautiful day.

Hey, you’ve got to do what works!

Byron Higgin

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