Sour spring weather proves difficult for SDSU sports

By Andrew Mount Sports Editor

 The snow has reared its ugly head once again in Brookings.

After snow plows, spring sports have borne the brunt of April snowfall in Brookings more than any other groups.

The primary sports in this category are baseball and softball, but even the football team — known for facing the elements — has had its struggle with the heavy snow the community has seen during this so-called “spring” season.

Though weather can prove to be quite the annoyance, SDSU baseball head coach Dave Schrage and his team see the harsh conditions as a normal obstacle that they’re used to overcoming.

“It’s a little bit of a struggle … you come back into town Sunday night and see your field is covered in snow,” Schrage said. “We kind of look at it as an obstacle, but we’ve got to overcome it. So far, they’ve done a great job with it.”

Despite overcoming the conditions, Schrage still believes weather causes disruptions with the ability to play his full roster, saying it can hurt the flow of the team.

“It kind of limits some of the guys who want to get some playing time in,” Schrage said. “We’re trying to make the best of it.”

SDSU softball head coach Kim Aggabao — who is still somewhat new to Brookings — finally got a true taste of what the weather can do in South Dakota.

A native of California, Aggabao spent seven seasons as an assistant coach to the softball program at the University of San Diego — a place where snow isn’t exactly an issue. Entering her second season as head coach for the Jackrabbits, Aggabao experienced snow in the middle of April — something she’s not particularly used to.

“Last year, I guess I got off lucky with having such nice weather for the spring and not much snow,” Aggabao said. “It’s a little bit more of an adjustment this year.”

While Aggabao says the team is fortunate that the weather hasn’t affected its conference games, she says the biggest concern the snow brings is the inability to practice outdoors.

“The biggest effect it’s had on us is not being able to practice outside on our field,” Aggabao said. “That has been huge for us … we love to play at home, but not being able to practice outside has kind of been an adjustment for us this year.”

Football head coach John Stiegelmeier is quite used to the weather that Brookings has to offer. As the Jackrabbits’ head coach for 16 years, Stiegelmeier has seen it all. Though football isn’t typically a sport that will miss a game because of snow, the spring conditions in Brookings have still affected it.

The football team’s upcoming spring game has been cancelled due to poor field conditions, and the team has struggled to practice at times for which the poor conditions are also to blame.

Though Stiegelmeier comes from Selby and is something of a farm boy at heart, he said he still would prefer that the weather not affect his team’s ability to accomplish its off-season goals.

“I’m part farm boy, so I have to rejoice in the moisture … the part of me that’s a football coach … it’s been very, very frustrating,” Stiegelmeier said. “I don’t know that it’s set us back, but it’s really slowed us down.”

Many coaches are anticipating is the new indoor practice facility SDSU will receive. With construction set to begin this summer, the completion of the facility is expected to be during the fall of 2014.

Stiegelmeier expressed the importance of the new facility and believes it will hold many benefits for coaches and student athletes.

“In a year and a half to two years, we won’t have to worry about this,” Stiegelmeier said. “You want to try to eliminate obstacles and hurdles for your program.”

Schrage is also on board for the new indoor addition to campus, saying it will be a huge step forward for the program.

“If we had that even this year, it would help us,” Schrage said. “With that being built, we’re looking at that as a real positive … that will help us a ton.”

It seems SDSU will be doing nothing but improving the sports programs on campus with the addition of the new practice facility, and for sports that aren’t meant to be played in the sometimes harsh weather of Brookings, an indoor sporting escape isn’t just a nice gesture — it’s a requirement.