WINSLOW — The ping of solid contact in the batting cage. The whoosh of a lacrosse ball spinning through the air overhead. The smell of … a stale gymnasium?

Monday marked the full, official start of the spring high school sports season. Although nearly two feet of fresh snow that fell a week and a half ago didn’t help any teams, a preseason that largely takes place indoors is a rite of spring in central Maine.

“It’s pretty much all we’ve ever known,” Winslow lacrosse coach Bruce Lambrecht said. “I think more teams are stuck inside with the loss (of Sukee Arena, which closed last fall). I think we’ve done our best to make it work. It’s not conducive, the kids don’t like it, and by the end of that 10th day you’re just so tired of being in here.”

Some teams do get outside, notably lacrosse clubs that utilize turf fields at Thomas College in Waterville. The Messalonskee boys and girls lacrosse teams will hold morning sessions there this week, and they also have some limited time at Colby College available, too. The Messalonskee boys planned to use the indoor All Pro Sports Center on Monday afternoon just up the road from Thomas, which recently installed a new turf surface.

Common practice among baseball and softball teams is to use parking lots before the fields are ready, once the weather warms up a bit.

But not everybody gets outside until it’s time — especially baseball and softball teams. Madison softball coach Chris LeBlanc said his team will play some scrimmages, albeit indoors, at the Topsham Indoor Sports Complex, colloquially referred to as “The Dome.”


Scheduling spring sports practice times is in many respects more challenging than scheduling up to six basketball practices a day on a single court during the winter months.

“There’s so many teams trying to use one facility because there’s nowhere else to go,” Messalonskee athletic director Tom Hill said. “With the winter stuff, all you’ve got in the gym is basketball — and every once in a while some indoor track. It’s a little easier, putting practices together for those.”

With uncertainty regarding weather and playing conditions (teams have scrimmages scheduled as early as next week), indoor practice schedules are typically put together on a weekly basis.

“A lot of stuff is done in pencil this time of year,” Hill said.

While a lot can be accomplished indoors, it’s only a matter of time before players and coaches get the itch to get outside.

“It’s productive (indoors) up to a point,” Winslow baseball coach Aaron Wolfe said. “After a certain number of weeks, then it becomes unproductive. Hopefully it doesn’t get to that point, but right now it’s productive no matter what we’re doing just because so many of our kids haven’t done any of it.”


The mid-March snowstorm hasn’t set Wolfe back. The Black Raiders have just one senior on the roster, and with a young team Wolfe was prepared to spend the bulk of the first few weeks of preseason in teaching mode.

Last week, when baseball and softball players were allowed to report early for pitching and catching conditioning, Wolfe said he had the entire team in attendance.

“Our numbers are really low, so we just brought everyone. There was no point (in not doing that),” said Wolfe, who returns only one starter from the 2016 team. “We’re just trying to teach the basics and fundamentals that a lot of the kids aren’t getting. It’s just going to be a lot of teaching, but it’s good for the younger kids.”

For Lambrecht, even using parking lots is counterproductive.

“We’ve tried that in the past, but it really didn’t do us much good,” Lambrecht said. “For us, the first time we get outside on a field is usually our first game.”

Welcome to spring sports in central Maine, where 45 degrees and intermittent sunshine could be considered a blissful during the first half of the schedule.


“It is what it is,” Lambrecht said. “There’s nothing you can do about it.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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