There’s nothing wrong with a spot of rain now and then. We need it for the grass to grow and to keep forest fires away.
And while the rain has been good to keep the forest fire situation under control for now, it’s wreaked havoc on the schedules of the outdoor sports leagues in Yellowknife.
Softball and soccer are the two leagues that have been hardest hit in recent days. The Yk Slopitch Association has had to postpone several games, most recently this past Tuesday and Wednesday because of the non-stop rain.
It’s also caused some heartburn for the Yk Fastball League as well. The league lost its entire first week of 2018 earlier this month and the O-Down Invitational, the first fastpitch tournament of the season, was under threat as well. The first night of action on June 14 was pushed back to June 15, which caused a traffic jam of sorts when it came to the rest of the action. This past Wednesday night’s action was also given the kibosh because of the rain, making matters even worse for the league.
Garrett Hinchey, the league’s president, said it’s a cause for concern when it comes to scheduling but there’s no way to fight Mother Nature.
“There’s nothing we can do about it,” he said. “We have such a tight schedule and we’re having to try and cram as much as we can into the end of the season.”
The league typically plays between June and August with each team scheduled to play 20 games. To date, Hinchey’s team, the Home Building Centre Cardinals, has played a grand total of one game in the month of June.
“We were looking forward to playing 14 games in July and August and now it looks like we’ll be playing upwards of 19,” he said. “As a Yellowknifer, all of the rain is good for the environment but it’s frustrating as a ball player because you’ve spent the entire winter waiting to play and all you can do is sit and wait.”
The old joke surrounding Tommy Forrest Ball Park, the fastball league’s venue, is that it could absorb and ocean and still have room for a lake. Problem is, it’s absorbed so much water that it hasn’t had time to properly dry out.
Couple that with the construction happening on Franklin Avenue right now and you have a real mess, said Hinchey.
“The water from Franklin Avenue drains into the first base dugout and it all pools up,” he said. “It takes a couple of warm days for the water to dry out and we haven’t had that yet.”
Another venue suffering from the precipitation is the Yellowknife Tennis Club. There are clinics scheduled every day of the week for the summer but the rain has forced several cancellations. It even dampened the Season Opener Tournament earlier this month, which finished up a full week after it was supposed to end on June 9.
“Our mens clinic has only had one night this season so far,” said Tami Johnson, the club’s general manager. “We’ve really only had one good week to date and we’ve had so many cancellations. I can’t speak for the players but I know all they want to do be out there every day because we have so many dedicated people.”
Johnson did have a solution to the problem but it’s one the city probably wouldn’t consider.
“We have this dream of a retractable roof over the tennis courts,” she joked. “I just hope we’ve had our fill of rain for this season and there’s a long summer ahead, especially for our day camps which start next week because we have so much planned for the kids.”
The Yk Adult Soccer League is also in limbo for the next little while as the city announced that the outdoor soccer fields will be closed until further notice on Wednesday afteroon.
Nick Rivet, the league’s president, said it’s thrown quite the monkey wrench into the engine.
“Most of our teams should have played their eighth or ninth game by now,” he said. “We have some teams that have played two or three games, one had four and one has just one game and that’s only because of the luck of the draw. They got to play their games when it was nice.”
All possibilities are being looked at to try and make up all of the games have been postponed, he added.
“Playing indoor was a possibility but that’s too short a notice for the city to try and schedule and to get field times,” he said. “There would be the additional cost of referees and for teams as well for field times and I don’t think the teams would be compensated for paying for extra field time indoors.”
One option is playing at night, which the league typically doesn’t do, but Rivet said it’s all a case of playing catch-up as best they can.
“We’re hoping to be back out in early July in the best-case scenario,” he said. “It is what it is and it could end up with us playing fewer games. There’s no way you can play at St. Joe’s Field right now because it’s literally a swamp. There’s no news about William McDonald Field and Range Lake North Field would be good to go with one or two good days of warm weather.”
At the end of the day, Hinchey said all anyone can do is hope for the best because it’s nothing new for Yellowknife.
“We’re all used to weather-related stuff in Yellowknife and events being postponed or cancelled because of it, whether it be winter or summer,” he said. “But I’d be lying to you if I said I’d rather be watching than playing.”