AUGUSTA — The snow on the ground, rain coming down and chill in the air painted a pretty dreary picture for the first day of spring practices. Not that it mattered to the Cony boys lacrosse team.

The Rams may have been cooped up in the school gym, but none of them seemed to care. After all, they got to wear their helmets, don their pads and handle their sticks again, for the first time this year. And it didn’t matter to them where they had to go to do it.

“It’s the same feeling. Yeah, we can’t do as much in here, can’t use balls as much, can’t do as much stickwork,” senior Nate Foye said. “Still, it’s just awesome to get a stick back in my hand and have fun.”

Spring practices opened across all sports Monday, and finding ways to get work done inside for much of this first week became the main objective for nearly all of them. The blizzard from two weeks ago has left fields, courts and diamonds buried under snow, and the teams without regular access to turf fields had to spend the first day of their seasons making do with gymnasiums, cafeterias and whatever indoor space they could find.

“The plan for this week (is) just kind of establishing procedures, how you want to do things, the format you want your practices to be, that sort of stuff. And getting some conditioning in, too,” Cony boys lacrosse coach Chad Foye said. “There’s not a lot you can get done inside. You can get through some things, but there’s just a lot you can’t.”

The Rams walked through cradling techniques and stick grips during their first practice, and the net used for the indoor batting cage offered a capable backup for shots. But coach Foye pointed out that the team couldn’t practice much of an attack.

“The balls are pretty hard and these bleachers don’t hold up very well,” he said, laughing and pointing to a few visible marks. “You see all those little cracks? That’s (from) the girls team. We don’t do shots. … We’ll do some cradling things. It’s tough to really work on ground balls in here because the ball won’t sit still. There are some things you can do, some things you can’t.”

Maybe so, but the surroundings didn’t do much to dampen the spirits of Foye’s players, eager to return to the sport after a 12-0 season last year.

“I’m so excited to be back playing lacrosse, even if it’s in the gym,” senior Chad Bickford said. “It’s really exciting to see who showed up and what the team looks like.”

Baseball and softball teams also got to work in their gyms, provided they made it there in the first place. That wasn’t the case at Maranacook, where afternoon activities were cancelled and the Black Bears baseball team will have to wait until today to break out the bats and helmets.

“The snow seems to be lingering a little more this year,” coach Eric Brown said. “I think the last couple of years, we’ve had a couple of days where there were a little higher temperatures and we got some melt. … It’s going to take a little while for it to melt, and then it’s going to be a swamp for a while, too.”

The saving grace for baseball and softball teams was the week of pitchers and catchers training that was opened up two years ago to the entire roster. Last week was limited exclusively to strengthing and exercising arms, so Monday was when teams could begin swinging bats, going over baserunning, holding fielding drills and practicing game situations.

Still, the pitchers and catchers week took care of throwing basics and mechanics, giving teams a good starting point as they wait for fields to dry out.

“Any time you can get a throwing regimen started is beneficial,” Brown said. “It’s great to be able to have that opportunity. We have 25 guys that have come out this year. One is in Germany, but the other 24 were pretty much there all of last week. You get to see the enthusiasm, there’s some great team chemistry we’ve already been able to build up.”

Tennis is often one of the quicker sports to get started due to the relative ease of getting courts cleared and dry, but the Gardiner girls were held inside with snow still piled on their courts. Coach Patrick Quinn said the team used the day to go over team expectations, player introductions and some of the ground rules of varsity tennis, a necessity with eight new players on the roster, but added that he expects to be on the court before the end of the week.

“We need to get right into it, don’t waste a lot of time,” Quinn said. “The girls have to be hitting as many shots as they can, it’s a pretty compact season. I’m sure they’re a little rusty, but we need to just be hitting tennis balls as often as we can.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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