FORT KENT, Maine — Many people associate northern Maine with frequent winter sports postponements because of storms that pile on the snow, according to Fort Kent Community High School Athletic Director Paul Michaud.
That’s not normally the case, he said, but this year is unusual.
“This is Year 21 for me,” said Michaud, “and I’ve yet to see a season start the way this one has. I’ve already had to postpone two boys [basketball] games and two girls games.”
Early-season storms have required schools to postpone or cancel a number of basketball games and other events. Winter storm Euclid on Thursday dumped up to a foot of snow by early afternoon in parts of southwestern Maine, although totals varied around the state.
Steve Alex, the first-year AD at Camden Hills of Rockport, was told that parts of town near the water only received a couple of inches of snow. Not so inland.
“We have 7-9 inches at my house, and I’m only a couple of miles inland,” he said.
Michaud has also had to cancel a couple of events.
“We had to cancel [a trip to] the Hermon wrestling meet,” said Michaud. “They postponed from Thursday to Friday. We were going to go down today, wrestle, stay overnight and come back Friday.
“When they postponed to Friday, we would have had to go down and come back [the same day]. Our transportation department said, ‘No way.’”
Michaud also had to cancel a Nordic ski meet.
“Canceling is easy, but it’s painful as well,” Michaud said. “It’s easy for me [not having to reschedule], but it’s a missed opportunity for them.”
Steve Vanidestine, the 29-year AD at Bangor, has had to deal with a number of postponements, especially for the girls basketball team.
“We’ve been unlucky,” he said. “We had to postpone [two basketball games] with Mt. Blue — those have been moved to Jan. 10; we lost the girls game with Brewer because they had a power outage, and we lost today’s [Thursday’s] game with Oxford Hills. That will be Jan. 14.”
Alex is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the two veteran ADs.
“This is our first postponement [this year],” said Alex, who didn’t have to reschedule any home games in the fall. “If we get many more, it’s going to be difficult.”
He, like Vanidestine, has a hockey program to work with, also.
“Hockey is trickier because we don’t own the arena,” said Alex, whose Windjammers play at Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. “There are other things going on that we would have to schedule around, and there aren’t many open times.
“We would probably have to hold a game during one of our practice slots.”
And with open dates filling up, they may not be as readily available for basketball, either, when more storms hit later this winter.
“And there’s another variable,” said Vanidestine. “A lot of school systems have a different week for [midyear] finals. It used to be they all took the same week. Now there are two weeks of finals.
“You get into a situation [with] schools where you have finals one week and can’t play and they have finals a week later and they can’t play.”
It also brings into play back-to-back games.
“I try to avoid back-to-back games [during the original scheduling],” said Michaud. “Once you have a postponement, though, you have to find the best date possible.”
Vanidestine has run into that already with the Bangor girls.
“They’re playing Jan. 10, 11 and 14,” he said. “And both 10 and 11 are away.”
Bangor (4-0) will be at Mt. Blue in Farmington on Jan. 10 and at Erskine of South China the next night. The Rams host Oxford Hills of South Paris on Jan. 14.
“The boys play Friday [at Oxford Hills] and Saturday [at Edward Little of Auburn],” added Vanidestine.
The Maine Principals’ Association also has rules in place to get the games played as early as possible.
And then there are the game officials. They have to be available, also, so teams try get their postponements rescheduled as soon as possible so the assignor of officials can make the appropriate assignments.
“We worked with Dave Mansfield. He was awesome,” said Alex. “He was right on top of things.”
Alex also appreciated that Nokomis of Newport was willing to work out something convenient.
Now, the varsity basketball games originally set for Thursday night, the boys at home and the girls at Nokomis, will be played Jan. 5 as part of a five-game day, including JVs and freshmen. They all will be played at Camden Hills, too.
Nokomis agreed to switch the girls game with its Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference opponent to Rockport. It’s the only time this year the two will meet during the regular season.
They all figure they’ll get it sorted out eventually.
“All I know,” said Vanidestine, “is come tournament time [in mid-February], all 18 games will be in, the teams that should make it in do and if you play well, you stay in it.”
Perseverance is the key to Michaud.
“We’re somewhat limited,” he said, “but we try to do what we can.
“We’ll just plow ahead, if you’ll pardon the expression.”