When asked how his playing fields looked these days, Bonny Eagle High Athletic Director Eric Curtis had a very simple answer: “White.”

Athletic directors and spring sports coaches throughout the state know what he means.

After a warm February teased coaches and players with green fields, clear tennis courts and tracks, reality slapped them with three nor’easters in early March that covered everything – and then some.

Gordie Salls, the athletic director at Sanford, said the last two storms dumped 18 and 24 inches of snow on his fields. Practices are inside or on parking lots.

“We’re a ways away,” said Salls. “It looks a little bleak right now. We need some rain and fog, and warm weather to get out.”

With the opener for all spring sports less than two weeks away, some athletic directors are worried about grass fields being ready.


“We open with Biddeford (in baseball) on April 12,” said Rich Buzzell, the athletic director at Marshwood High in Berwick. “We’ll be hard-pressed to get that one in. We might, but …”

As it is, Buzzell said the three scrimmages his baseball and softball teams scheduled are likely to be canceled.

Bonny Eagle’s softball team had a weekend scrimmage in Newburyport, Massachusetts, canceled because of poor field conditions.

Schools are juggling gym time to get their teams practice time inside.

Schools that have artificial surfaces are in better shape. Those fields have been cleared, allowing the lacrosse teams to practice outside, and give the baseball and softball teams access to a field where they can hit fly balls.

Of course, this being Maine, coaches aren’t entirely thrown off by snow-covered fields.


“I’ve been coaching for a while,” said Mike D’Andrea, the baseball coach at Scarborough. “And I don’t ever remember being outside this time of year. So it’s no different for me.”

D’Andrea will take 15 players to Staten Island in New York on Friday and Saturday, away from the snow. There he’ll be able to “do some evaluation of players. We know the kids can hit in the cage and take ground balls in the gym. Can they do it in a game setting?”

Mark Boissonneault, the longtime Sanford baseball coach, is taking his players to Connecticut this weekend. Friday will be a day of practice, Saturday for a couple of games. When the Spartans return, they’ll practice a couple of times inside at the York Sports Center.

“If our fields aren’t completely ready, at least we have something to do,” he said. “This is my 20th year doing this. I’ve learned you can’t control the weather, that you do the best you can and get your kids prepared the best you can.

“In Maine, you’ve got to be a little mentally tough anyway. That holds true this year more so than the past.”

Most schools in southern Maine report at least four inches of snow on their fields. In some cases the snow on baseball and softball fields has melted considerably, as in Scarborough, where the fields get plenty of direct sunlight.


But Northern Maine is still buried. “We’re still measuring the snow in feet, not inches,” said Presque Isle Athletic Director Mark White.

The Wildcats offer baseball, softball, track and tennis. White said his teams traditionally travel to Kittery, Sanford, Kennebunk or Westbrook for preseason play, spending a couple of nights in hotels.

“It’s an expense but if you’re going to run programs and you want to give your kids the best chance to be successful, it’s worth it,” said White. “The snow always goes away.”

Sometimes it needs a little help.

Artificial turf fields can be plowed. Tennis courts can be shoveled. Mel Craig, the athletic director at Deering, remembers the year she was at Gray-New Gloucester and had nearly four feet of snow on the field in early April.

“We ordered some black sand,” she said. “We spread it out on the field and in 48 hours the snow melted.”


This year isn’t so bad for the Portland-based school. Craig said her lacrosse field and tennis courts are clear, and snow is melting on baseball and softball fields. “I was nervous with those two Nor’easters,” she said. “I was thinking it would be a bad year. It’s not so bad here.”

In places where the snow is melting, school officials still have to be wary. The fields need time to dry once the snow is gone.

Eric Hall, the athletic director at Lisbon, said his players see the grass and dirt on the fields and want to get on them.

“Then,” he said, “you have to remind them that, well, third base is still under water.”

But coaches are always optimistic. Even when the weather isn’t cooperating.

As Sanford’s Boissonneault said, “I’ll tell you right now, we look great in the parking lot.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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