MHS coaches have differing opinions on prolonging season

A recent proposal to extend the North Dakota prep sports spring season is drawing mixed opinions from area coaches.

Inclement weather has led to an abundance of cancellations, prompting West Fargo athletic director Curt Jones to write a request to the North Dakota High School Activities Association.

Jones’ proposal, which will be reviewed during Tuesday’s NDHSAA Board of Directors meeting in Valley City, is to have state tournaments pushed back as far as two weeks.

State tournaments – for baseball, softball, track and field, golf, girls tennis and girls soccer – are currently scheduled to run between May 23 and June 5.

Unplayable field conditions have created an early-season lull for programs across the Peace Garden State, and Jones doesn’t believe the athletes should be punished with a compact season.

“I’m very concerned,” Jones told the Fargo Forum. “In any athletic season, it is all about kids getting prepared for the state tournament or the postseason. How do you prepare for that when you only have four weeks of competition? It is not fair to the kids.”

The Minot High baseball team hasn’t played a game, but head coach Pete Stenberg isn’t interested in making up for lost time.

“I’m not for (the proposal),” Stenberg said. “I don’t think we need to go back that far. There are other things going on in the summer. Dealing with (bad weather) is the chance you take when playing spring sports in North Dakota.”

Since the beginning of April, Minot High athletics have had a combined 26 cancellations. The softball team has played in just three games, while the track and tennis teams have competed in just two indoor events each.

Minot girls track coach Michelle Hoff, whose team is expected to to challenge for a trophy at the state meet, sees the benefits of an extended season.

“I think I’d be for it,” Hoff said. “When you look at the fact that you might be able to compete just three times before the West Region meet, it’s tough. You train, train and train and have nothing to compare anything to.”

Not that Hoff doesn’t see the downside of the proposal.

“You just don’t know what the kids have planned when school gets out,” Hoff said. “That, to me, would be the biggest concern.”