The cold truth: Weather playing havoc with Southland teams’ schedules
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org January 28, 2014 9:22PM
Mt. Carmel's head coach Mike Flaherty (left) has words with David Nichols (right) after Nichols was disqualified and charged with a technical during the Crete-Monee boys basketball shootout against Thornwood in Crete, Il., on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. | John Smierciak/For Sun-Times Media
MAKEUP GAME FROM FRIDAY
Tri-Point at Illinois Lutheran, 7:15 p.m. Wednesday
MAKEUP GAMES FROM TUESDAY
Andrew at Tinley Park, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday
Argo at Leyden, 7 p.m. Wednesday
Chicago Christian at Oak Lawn, 7 p.m. Wednesday
Lincoln-Way Central at Shepard, 7 p.m. Wednesday
Seton at Eisenhower, 7 p.m. Wednesday
Morgan Park Academy at U-High, 6:30 p.m. Thursday
St. Anne at Beecher, 7:15 p.m. Thursday
St. Rita at Brother Rice, 3 p.m. Saturday
T.F. South at Rich East, 7 p.m. Monday
Ag. Science at Marist, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27
MAKEUP GAMES FROM MONDAY
Donovan at Beecher, 6 p.m. Wednesday
Andrew at Bradley, 11:30 a.m. Saturday
MAKEUP GAMES FROM TUESDAY
Thornwood at Lincoln-Way Central, 6 p.m. Wednesday
Sandburg at Joliet Central, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday
Ridgewood at Illiana Christian, 7 p.m. Wednesday
Nazareth at Queen of Peace, 6 p.m. Friday
Homewood-Flossmoor at Lockport, 11:30 a.m. Saturday
Universal at Argo, 1:30 p.m. Saturday
Lincoln-Way North at Lincoln-Way West, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5
Stagg at Lincoln-Way East, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5
Lemont at Downers Grove North, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13
Updated: March 3, 2014 2:44PM
Mike Flaherty thought he had experienced it all during his 40 years of coaching high school basketball.
But then came “Chiberia,” a frigid 1-2 winter weather punch that has the region’s temperature readings more resembling Siberia than Chicago.
Flaherty, of course, has encountered days when games and practices were canceled because of heavy snow — this is Illinois, mind you.
However, he couldn’t recall experiencing the recent extreme weather conditions — what meteorologists refer to as polar vortex — that occurred Jan. 7, and then again Monday and Tuesday, causing school, practices and games throughout the Southland to be canceled.
Temperatures dropped to 11 degrees below zero in the region early Tuesday, with wind chills in the minus-35 degree range. Those conditions are better suited for the Iditarod.
“Obviously, you have the snow days periodically,” said Flaherty, who’s coaching at Mount Carmel after stops at Mendel and Thornridge. “But I don’t remember anything because of the cold — especially so close to one another. We were canceled three weeks ago, and here we are again. There’s not even school, much less playing games. This just seems so out of the ordinary.”
Flaherty recalled a weather occurrence during the second game of his coaching career back in 1975 that forced Mendel to miss a game at a Thanksgiving tournament in Streator.
“It was snowing really bad and I was driving the van with the players and we were looking for the Route 20 exit,” Flaherty recalled. “One of the players who was supposed to be looking for the exit fell asleep. I stopped at a gas station and the person inside says, ‘You can’t miss it. It’s the next exit.’ We missed it and kept going west. We never showed for the game. Not the way you want to start your coaching career.”
With many of Flaherty’s players traveling a long distance to attend Mount Carmel, he understands why administrators play it safe.
“Most of the Catholic schools have kids from a lot of different places,” Flaherty said. “We have players from Indiana, Beverly and Naperville. It’s a long way for them to come in this type of weather.”
Crete-Monee’s Tom Cappel is in his 41st year coaching high school basketball. Like Flaherty, Cappel couldn’t recall a similar stretch of cancellations because of sub-zero weather.
“No, I don’t have anything in mind like this at all,” he said. “We’ve had snow days where we missed school but had games or practices later that day because they were able to clear the snow. But nothing like the cold we’re having now.”
Cappel, who spent the majority of his career at Hillcrest, recalled a time when he had to lend a hand — literally — to a bus driver during a snowy trip to Joliet West.
“It was really bad outside,” Cappel said. “The linkage from the floor to the gas pedal had broke. I had to hold the linkage to the pedal down with my hand while the driver was driving so the bus could move. There’s no way I could do that now. It was tough. I probably shouldn’t have done that — we (Hillcrest) ended up losing the game.”
Crete-Monee was scheduled to play Lemont on Tuesday. Well, make that rescheduled to play Lemont. The game was a make-up from Jan. 7 when extreme cold forced postponement. Now it has to be scheduled a third time.
“We haven’t been in a gym since Friday and won’t be in one until Wednesday,” Cappel said. “But I’d imagine it’s the same for everyone. We’ll adapt.”
Ken Styler spent 21 years as coach at Marist and the past 14 years at Richards, including 12 as athletic director. Rescheduling games is a common occurrence in the spring — April showers are no friend to baseball and softball games — but the experience this season is something else.
“This is very uncommon,” Styler said. “Fortunately, it hasn’t been too much of a scheduling nightmare for us. We’ve had light schedules on the days school has been canceled. Once the coaches agree on a date, you call the bus company and adjust the schedule. It generally is pretty smooth.”
Like a sheet of ice.
“It’s brutal out there,” Styler said. “It’s something I don’t remember experiencing as a coach or athletic director. Ever.”