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Raider athletes suffering cabin fever

Student-athletes on Hudson's spring athletic teams are facing their first big challenge of the season in the form of the lingering cold, snowy winter.

With snow blanketing the school district fields, athletes have been forced inside for practice, utilizing every available space at the high school, middle school and elementary school to prepare for the season.

"It's been challenging finding the space needed for 500 to 600 athletes," athletic director Stephanie DeVos said. "But we're being as creative as we can."

The creativity includes the golf and track teams sharing the high school wrestling room, the girls' soccer team using the Willow River and River Crest elementary school gyms, and baseball and softball sharing space in the high school gyms.

"The coaches have been very patient and doing a good job of working together with our space issues," DeVos said. "We're utilizing every space we can in the district."

Some teams have taken matters into their own hands. About 180 Raider track and field athletes got together last Monday, March 25, to shovel snow off the Newton Field track at Rocky Branch Elementary School.

The athletes spent an hour and one-half after school clearing about 15 inches of wet, heavy snow off the straightaways where the 100 meter dash and hurdles are run. They left about one inch of exposed ice, which quickly melted once it was exposed to the sun.

By the end of the week team members had cleared three to four lanes all the way around the track.

Hudson's tennis courts are also clear enough to host a scrimmage with River Falls this Thursday, April 4, but the baseball and softball fields at Grandview Park, and the middle school soccer field, will have to wait for Mother Nature to run its course.

This week's baseball and softball openers have already been either cancelled or postponed leaving DeVos scrambling for make-up dates.

"The No. 1 priority with rescheduling is, conference games come first," she said. "We have been preparing; leaving dates open. But you can't control Mother Nature. We try to be as proactive as possible and do what we can do."

DeVos said she is in constant contact with the other athletic directors in the Big Rivers Conference, and contingency plans are being discussed in case the start of the season is pushed back too far.

"Possibilities include counting only the second half of season, or playing as many games as possible and going to a points system," she said. "But we're not there yet; it's still too early to panic."

DeVos said she's taking a simple approach to the problem.

"Stay positive and keep thinking warm and sunny," she said.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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