The beginning of the spring sports season is a busy time for track and field coaches. If there’s one attribute coaches need entering a season, it’s flexibility.

“In the spring, you’re always getting hit with things,” Skowhegan head coach Dave Evans said.

There’s figuring out which events new athletes should participate in. Focusing on times and distance to put their top athletes in the right place to be for the ultimate goal, winning conference, regional and state championships. Figuring out how to put a good practice together in face of inclement weather.

Gardiner head coach Jen Boudreau enters the season with a roster of 62 athletes. By her estimation, 20 of those athletes have never participated in track before. An early challenge is placing those athletes in events where they will be successful.

“It’s pretty awesome (to have that many new athletes), but they don’t know what they want to do,” Boudreau said. “That’s the challenge, figuring out what they want to try, not feeling like they’re stuck (with one event). I tell them, ‘You can change your mind, every single meet. That’s OK.’ That’s one of the challenges, just figuring out what they want to do.”

“I try to use the first few meets in trying to find where kids should go (for events),” Winslow head coach Ken Nadeau said. “It’s like an extension of practice. It’s their chance to show their stuff. It is competitive, but we’re not so much competing for titles, we’re trying to get some top times downs and markers for the season.”


One of the biggest factors all coaches must take into account is weather. Spring rain plays a role in how teams plan out practices and meets.

“We can’t do a lot of jumping or throwing inside, we’re kind of limited there,” Boudreau said. “When we’re inside, we just try to (make practice) short and fun. We brought them in last week and we just played games, stuff where they can just move really fast. They got a good workout, but we weren’t fine-tuning skills. When we do go inside, we try to tweak it to do more fun things. We’ve done a scavenger hunt, when it was really horrible rain, we did a photo scavenger hunt where they had to go all over campus, inside and outside. You give them those little competitions to make it fun.”

Nadeau, who is coming off a successful indoor track season that included a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference boys title, doesn’t let the rain change his course of action for practice.

Maranacook’s Elle Trefethen, left, takes the baton from Jenna Badeau in 4×100 relay during a track and field meet Thursday in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“This is probably going to sound bad, but I run outside 99 percent of the time, even if it’s bad weather,” Nadeau said. “A lot of parents probably dislike me because of it. But I just can’t get a lot done inside, especially with outdoor (track), the teams are larger, typically. We’ve had a lot of rainy practices recently. I think we’ve been inside maybe once or twice out of the seven days of rain we’ve had so far this season. It’s cold and the kids are cold. People are probably like, ‘Why are you outside?’ And it’s because I know, historically speaking, we’re going to run on a day where it’s kind of 50/50 (weather-wise), it could be (a meet) where it’s misty and it turns to rain. We obviously don’t jump or throw on those days, but everyone can use conditioning.”

Nadeau added that, even for the athletes who participated in indoor track, conditioning can fall within weeks.

“Outdoor is just a different beast,” Nadeau said. “I’m a huge fan of indoor, obviously we’ve had a lot of success there. Outdoor is just different, for a number of reasons. The kids, you would think, would be in great shape. But after a month off, it’s amazing how much — like all of us, if we took a month off from working out — what would that be like? Some of them come in good to go, and others don’t, even if they’ve done indoor.”


Evans, who’s said that he has a consistent number of 35 athletes attending practice, has multiple programs in place to fight through rainy weather.

“We have a weight lifting program with our track team where we have groups that are lifting every other day,” Evans said. “Even if we’re outside, we have groups that are inside lifting. So obviously, that doesn’t change if we’re inside or outside, those same groups are going to get their lifting in… We get a lot of generalized conditioning in, a lot of form running stuff. When we get outside, we take advantage of that.”

Messalonskee’s Hannah King competes in the race walk during a track and field meet Thursday in Oakland. This is her first season race walking. She’s adding it to the throwing events she competes in. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“This time of the year, you can’t really get into any kind of routine,” Maranacook head coach Ronn Gifford said. “The days that are warm and nice, you try to take as much advantage of those as possible with all those track events that, on a (bad) day, you can’t get as much done. That’s the biggest thing, is just stay flexible and adjust your workout plan every day until we settle into more consistent weather, which hopefully isn’t too far away.”

There’s off-the-track factors as well. This week is April vacation for Maine high schools, so family trips can cut down roster sizes for a meet. Prom and graduation are also factors on a list.

“It’s April break and we’re coming out of COVID,” Boudreau said. “Everyone wants to go on a vacation. We’re down by a lot of numbers for our first meet. Which is fine, it is what it is, I can’t blame them. I’d go on vacation too if I could.”

“The spring sports season, for everyone I think, and I don’t think track is any different than the other sports, it’s when driver’s (education) happens, it’s when Model UN happens, when the prom happens, graduation happens, class night,” said Gifford. “All those things. Humanities night, choral shows, etc. all come to a close. You’re trying to fit in practices and meets among all those things.

“You’ve got to kind of roll with the punches and just know all of the kids are involved in a million different things,” Gifford said. On one hand, would I love to see them involved in half a million things? Yes. At the same time, all the things they’re doing is great stuff. It’s making them the great young people that they are and the great leaders of the future, all because of these things. You roll with it.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.