COLUMBIA - The snow and ice of the past week added another layer to the scheduling challenges high school athletic directors have faced all year due to Covid-19.
According to Battle Athletic Director Alex Huck, rescheduling a game used to be a long process, but athletic directors have now gotten used to last-minute postponements and cancellations.
"It's just become a more, I don't want to say informal [process] in a loose sense, but it's just, you're kind of throwing it out there because everyone's dealing with it," said Huck. "Everyone's losing games, everyone trying to find games to fill their schedule."
Still, the constant schedule shifting can be frustrating and confusing.
"I've got to go through and fix it on all of these different calendars and make sure that you're contacting the appropriate people; letting the officials know, letting our game workers know who were expected to work that game. Obviously, the coaches and the opposing AD," Huck said. "There's a lot of boxes to check as you go through when you're altering or canceling a game."
The past two weeks for Huck and Battle have been especially challenging. Exposure from an opponent led to a Covid-19 pause for the Battle boys' basketball program. The pause forced cancellations of both of Battle's cross-town rivalry games against Rock Bridge and Hickman.
Then the snow and ice led Huck to cancel Monday's girls basketball game against Belle and pick up a game at Warrensburg on Thursday to replace it. Additionally, the cold snap caused practice cancellations for Battle's boys and girls wrestling in an all-important week leading up to state sectionals.
"I hope there isn't anything that would be bigger, more of a scheduling nightmare coming our way," Huck said.
Adding to the rescheduling challenge, district tournaments for boys and girls basketball are a few days to a week away, depending on the class. This limits the amount of time schools have to reschedule. Harrisburg Athletic Director Doug Fessler said the timing of the snow and ice couldn't have been much worse.
"I talked to my superintendent who had been here for many years as a coach, principal, and now superintendent. He doesn't ever remember [weather] having that big an impact on the last week of the season heading to districts."
Fessler also serves as the district chair for Class 2, District 7 this season. The snow and ice of the past week led him to make 54 phone calls on Thursday alone, rescheduling games and ultimately shifting the dates for the district tournament.
"It was very hectic for me. It still is because I want every event to run near perfection when I host it. And I do a lot to try to make sure that happens. And so, for me, it's been a lot of extra work."
Several area athletic directors said they have learned to be less picky when rescheduling games this year.
"I think everyone has to be open minded. Saturday or Saturday might be your only option at times," said Capital City Athletic Director Robert Ndessokia. "You've got to really be able to adjust. I know a lot of coaches don't like to play back-to-back or four games in a week, but that might be what you have to do to get all your games in."
Ndessokia also said rescheduling basketball games has gotten easier in some ways because so many teams are looking to get more games in to complete a regular season schedule before the postseason starts.
"You get an email every single day it seems like. People wanting the game and they're ready to host. 'Hey, come and travel, we already got officials, we got game workers.' In the beginning we were all panicked and seeing what's going to happen. But now it's common."
With the postseason right around the corner, some basketball teams are playing three or four nights in a row.
"I can tell you for all my coaches playing three games in three days is not ideal, but the kids love it!" said Fessler.
Despite the challenges, Fessler, Ndessokia and Huck all had the same message when asked what makes the scheduling headaches worth it.
"I have a senior daughter myself. And that picture I see is her getting to compete at the end, and that's what you're doing it for. You're doing it for the kids," Fessler said.
"It's always about the kids. My whole thing is having the kids have the opportunities to compete and enjoy their school days here at Capital City," Ndessokia said.
"Giving the kids the ability to get out and have a little bit of camaraderie with with their peers and socialize a little bit in a safe way, it's so important for their mental and physical health," Huck said. "Being able to provide that experience really throughout the duration of the school year, whether school was in-person or virtual, has definitely been the biggest bright spot for me."