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Rain, rain, go away, you’re taking up too much time for play

Local sports officials don't remember a summer in St. Albert as soggy as this one

If you thought that the rain has dampened your summertime of activities, consider how soggy things have gotten for the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who use the city’s sports fields.

“It sucks,” Kurtus Millar, president of the St. Albert Minor Baseball Association.

“It's been awful to be honest. I don't remember a summer ever being like this. My youngest son plays rookie, which is 9U. I think we've got like nine games in all year including the two tournaments. Both our mid-season and our year-end tournaments were rained out. It's crazy.”

He added that the number of games played would typically be between 16 and 20 in a season, meaning that around half of the games had to be cancelled or rescheduled.

“It was crazy. I don't even know what to say if we wouldn't have fixed those fields at Legion. We would have been closed for the last three weeks.”

Over the last two years, SAMBA spent close to $500,000 resurfacing and upgrading its facility at Legion Memorial Ball Park on Sturgeon Road. This has allowed the league a faster return to play with typically only one night off for the rainout.

This is Millar’s fifth year as the head of the organization and he has seen bad years before.

“I think it was my second year as president that was pretty bad too, but nothing like this.”

SAMBA organizes games for close to 80 teams and the weather really “beat up” on the house league, which only play during May and June.

According to Environment Canada data, there was a cumulative total of 134.3 mm of precipitation during those two months this year. The average precipitation for May and June is 40.7 and 77.5 mm respectively. July, on the other hand, has an average precipitation of 93.8 mm.

“Lots of kids play house league because they still want to go to the lake in the summertime. They don't want to make that rep baseball commitment so they have a really short season. It was very short this year,” he continued. “My youngest was pretty disappointed. We got out every chance we could. We even played in the rain a couple times.”

Rep baseball play is already underway and will go until the August long weekend.

Soccer play has experienced similar difficulties with maintaining a regular play schedule. Chris Spaidal, the executive director of the St. Albert Soccer Association, said that the weather has been noticeably worse.

“The biggest issue that we've had is trying to find the timeline to fit all the allotted games into the adjusted timeframe that we're now afforded,” he said.

“If you've got a schedule stretched out and the leagues are supposed to go till the middle or the end of August, over three and a half months, now we're finding ourselves a lot crammed, especially on the club level. A lot of our club teams are really finding condensed schedules, especially where they have to have their secondary schedules reseeded later on.”

The good news is that SASA has been better in scheduling the field allocations for the actual game schedule this year. As an example, he said, where the organization has had to try and “cram” five or six nights of play per week onto the Riel fields, it has been able to cut that down to two or three in some cases. It has done much to improve the quality of the fields.

“It's really made the quality of our fields come through. Although last night (Thursday), I'll admit we jammed some games on because we're just so much up against the time crunch, you can really see the difference. It's really starting to rip up some of our premium fields. They get ripped up because we're trying to push games back to return to play quicker than probably the fields are ready for. We're at the point where we feel like we're forced to try and catch up right now.”

The fields along Riel Drive were closed a few years ago for major reclamation work and outdoor facility enhancement projects. Keeping the greens in good shape means not pushing it too much with dozens of players in cleats running around while the ground is wet. Ideally, they hope for a few days of dry weather before it’s game time again.

“This is the best shape they've been in since they've all been resurfaced. It took an awful lot to get them to where they're at. We don't want to go and make a couple of poor decisions and put us back to where we were a couple years ago,” he said.

Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Ecology and Environment Reporter at the Fitzhugh Newspaper since July 2022 under Local Journalism Initiative funding provided by News Media Canada.
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