PORT ANGELES — The second serious snow event to hit the North Olympic Peninsula in as many years has kept area athletes sidelined since the first flakes fell, but the weather-induced layoff may be more of a help than a hindrance.
And in one instance — a financial benefit.
“We focus on what we can control and we can’t control the weather, but we can control our response,” Port Angeles boys basketball coach Kasey Ulin said. “There are different ways to stay connected like film study, but we can use the time off to mentally and physically rest and prepare for the stretch run.
“Our kids can heal up some little, minor injuries and get ready for seven more league games, the district tournament and hopefully playing in Yakima at state because that’s where we want to be and be playing good basketball.”
Ulin said that winter sports, due to their spot in the calendar, can be mentally and physically demanding.
“There’s always some mental fatigue come January,” Ulin said. “The kids have been practicing for two months and it’s a physical grind. Winter sports are tough with the weather, daylight savings, the holiday breaks — so any time we can use a situation to refresh I think it can help us in the long term.
“And we want our kids to enjoy being young, so the advice was to be smart, be safe while enjoying the snow. We sent some film breakdowns. Some team bonding stuff we are planning on to keep things lighthearted. Just keeping the kids engaged and taking advantage of the time together.”
The time off has been a little more worrisome for Port Angeles wrestling coach Rob Gale.
“It’s huge,” Gale said. “In an individual sport like this, it’s the worst impact when a kid takes three straight days off. The fourth day it starts working backwards on you. It’s faster to get out of shape than to get in to shape.”
Gale said the weather postponed a home match with Bremerton and Port Townsend that he believes will determine the Olympic League championship.
“Bremerton has been practicing all week and we haven’t had any, so in that case, I’m OK with some time off. But only because of that. It’s been killing me. I’ve been wanting to hold practice, even off campus, but I can’t.”
Gale did mention that the timing of this year’s big snowfall was better than in 2019, when snow fell and lingered, eventually wiping out the regional round of the wrestling postseason.
“This is a lot better timing-wise because we can still get the kids back into shape in the second half of the season,” Gale said.
“They were starting to get to the top of their games, looking good and wrestling good, so we are going to have to get them back at it.”
Gale said he reached out to his team before the snow and let them know they needed to keep active.
“I texted the kids and told them they needed to be working on their own,” Gale said.
But even training hard doesn’t replicate time on the mat in practice.
“You can run and get in shape all you want, but the real conditioning is live wrestling,” Gale said. “You can run 20 miles a day and it still doesn’t compare.”
Gale said he knows that some athletes did get some exercise in this week.
“I got a good picture the other day,” Gale said. “I went to the school to do laundry and Adam Borde one of our team captains and our state placer last year, he was up there running hills in near 5 inches of snow,” Gale said.
And Gale said that Borde, and fellow captains Jason Kibe Jr., Josh Boe along with teammate Jaymisen Morrison stepped up to help out Bruce Skinner.
“I got four kids in a shoveling snow party and went to Bruce Skinner’s house at Lake Sutherland and shoveled him out,” Gale said. “We are replacing our wrestling mats this year and it will cost $10,000 and Bruce donated $500 toward the purchase of our new mats. He said the kids got a workout in.”
Port Angeles girls basketball coach Michael Poindexter understands there’s nothing that can be done, apart from hoping that school is in session today, in order to get at least one practice in before the No. 14 Roughriders visit No. 11 Sequim on Saturday in a showdown for first place in the Olympic League.
“I hope we get our practice in [today], I am itching to get in the gym a little bit,” Poindexter said.”There’s nothing we can do about it, but we are used to it from last year at district time with the snow and having to play three games in a row.
“Both know each other’s kids really well, so there’s not a lot of deep studying to be done. We’ll just go out and play. Both teams know each other so well, it should be a fun game to see how each team adjusts.”
The weather did force Port Angeles to bump an away game with defending state champion and No. 6 Washougal to next Saturday, Jan. 25.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected].