By Tom Williams
Wednesday morning, several athletic directors with All-American Conference schools weighed in on this weekend’s frigid weather forecast and took action.
“You can’t [fight] Mother Nature,” said Marc Fritz, the Niles athletic director. “We decided to be proactive instead of reactive.”
Among others, Fritz was determined to sidestep the weather forecast that boasts sub-zero temperatures combined with dangerous wind chills.
As a result, Friday’s Edgewood-Niles basketball at McKinley High School has been moved ahead to tonight.
Two other All-American Conference games also are being today at 7 p.m. instead of on Friday: Struthers at Poland and Jefferson at Lakeview.
Because the games will help determine a conference champion and most teams have had a few days off, Fritz said the urgency to play ahead of schedule kicked in.
Ron DeJulio, Lakeview athletic director, said the unusual move was possible because Tuesday’s boys basketball schedule was light because of the holiday break.
“We knew there was a big cold spell coming in,” DeJulio said. “Some schools will not play if you don’t have school that day — Jefferson is one.”
Badger also announced a change Tuesday night. The Braves’ Northeastern Athletic Conference boys game at Grand Valley has been moved to tonight from Friday.
Friday’s boys basketball schedule is loaded with games that might not get played. One of them is Cardinal Mooney at Ursuline.
Even if both schools are closed on Friday because of the cold, it’s possible the game might get played.
Sean Durkin, Ursuline athletic director, said if the schools close because of unsafe road conditions, there will be no tip-off.
“If it’s cold, we’ll use common sense whether to play or reschedule,” Durkin said. “Common sense has to prevail.”
John Mang, commissioner of the new Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference, said the eight teams in his league use superintendent decisions to determine whether games are played or postponed.
Mang said that last school year Lowellville had a policy of “no school, no play.” This year, it’s a superintendent decision.
Mang’s prediction for Friday’s four MVAC games?
“I don’t think we’re going to play,” Mang said.
Fritz said he contacted Steve Kray, Edgewood’s athletic director, on Wednesday morning to propose playing a day early.
“This is a conference game, we have to have it played,” Fritz said. “Thursday made sense — neither of us had a game.”
The gymnasium was available — the Niles girls basketball team played Wednesday night in Jefferson.
When Kray agreed to the switch, Fritz checked with the officials assigner to make sure referees were available, then asked for permission from the administration.
“It worked out,” Fritz said.
Noticing that Saturday’s forecast might be just as dangerous, Fritz then made arrangements with Warren Harding to move their girls basketball game from Saturday at 2:30 p.m. to Monday at 7 p.m., when the high temperature is expected to rise above freezing.
“Saturday’s [conditions] are expected to be just as bad as Friday, if not worse,” Fritz said.
Bracing for comments from those not happy with the switch, Fritz said the reaction from players and coaches has been positive.
“So far, all of the feedback has been positive,” DeJulio said.