Cold spring weather causes havoc for Iowa high school soccer schedules
Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson girls soccer coach Mark Royer is known for always wearing shorts on the sideline.
No matter how cold, windy or rainy it is, that’s his go-to choice for spring.
However, he wasn’t wearing them last Friday when ice on the turf field of Wickersham Stadium prompted him to cancel the two-day T.J. Girls Soccer Classic for the first time ever.
A year earlier, it was 72 degrees and Royer went home sunburned, but this time, the field was unplayable and dangerous.
“You could see the numbers, but you couldn’t see the color of the turf,” Royer said. “If you didn’t know it was green, you’d have no idea. It was crazy.”
Although there was a chance the weather would improve the next day, Royer didn’t want to risk 15 teams coming from as far as four hours away for nothing, so he called it off.
He left the door open for organizing a few afternoon matches for any teams that still wanted to play, but the only interest was from local schools that were already scheduled to face each other.
The next morning, when Royer went to check on the status of the field at 9 a.m., the south end zone was still frozen.
No matches were played in western Iowa that day, and only 16 girls matches and 27 boys matches were played in the state during the weekend.
“It was 100 percent the right decision,” Royer said.
Instead, the Yellow Jackets held practice inside, played kickball and ate pizza. On a similar day earlier in the season, the Tri-Center girls had an Easter egg hunt.
What else could they do?
Inclement weather has done a number on the first few weeks of soccer.
Practices have been moved indoors, games have been postponed and tournaments have been erased from the calendar.
“If you just go through the state and look at Quikstats, you’d be amazed how many people have missed games,” Royer said. “It’s all over the state.”
The Iowa High School Athletic Association’s website keeps an incomplete record of boys matches that have been postponed or canceled every night. Nearly two weeks into the season, there hasn’t been a single match day that’s gone by without being affected by the weather.
How has this affected teams in western Iowa?
Of the 24 regional boys squads, 14 have played two matches or fewer and five have played one. The Logan-Magnolia, Sioux City North and Carroll Kuemper boys all made their 2018 debuts this week, while the Sioux City East and Sioux City Heelan boys played each other last Thursday in their only match of the year thus far.
On the girls side, 10 of the 23 teams have only played one match. C.B. Lewis Central, Treynor, Missouri Valley, Underwood, Logan-Magnolia, Sioux City North and Sioux City Heelan all opened the season this week.
C.B. Abraham Lincoln and Sioux City West opened last Thursday and were both scheduled to play in Thomas Jefferson’s tournament over the weekend. Carroll opened the same night, but weather hasn’t pushed back any of its matches.
Last week, two-time Class 2-A defending state champion Lewis Central saw its first two matches postponed on back-to-back days. The showdown with 1-A No. 9 Heelan was reset for April 30, and the Denison-Schleswig match was moved to May 1.
The Lewis Central girls were eager to play, but coach Chris Von Mende didn’t have much of a problem waiting a few days.
“In a way, I’m kind of happy,” he said. “It gave us a little more time before our first game. And the nice thing is, it will be a lot warmer for those other games.”