The playing fields are covered and most high school spring sports start practice Monday, March 11.
There is not a chance to get outside, at least on the ball fields, on the first day of high school baseball and softball practice. Morris Area / Chokio-Alberta track and field teams could have better luck with a rubberized track, but with another winter weather advisory in the forecast for this weekend, those odds, too, will be low.
Still, Morris Area Schools and the University of Minnesota Morris hope to encourage spring along by clearing the snow from the baseball and softball fields at Eagle Park, in Morris, and the track at UMM.
As of Thursday morning, March 7, UMM already had cleared the snow off the entire track.
"Our grounds crew was generous enough to do the job for us this one swipe," UMM head coach Jessica Devine said. "With the depth of the snow, we wanted to help the melting process a bit."
Morris/C-A head baseball coach Kirby Sayles said a final decision on snow removal on the baseball field hasn't yet been made.
Morris/C-A head softball coach Mary Holmberg said she won't make a decision when to remove snow until next week.
If it happens, the goal in clearing the snow off the ball fields isn't necessarily so teams can get out there to practice, Sayles said.
"We are more concerned with when it melts and the frost comes out it will be extremely wet," Sayles said. "It's more about preventing moisture than removing the snow. When this winter ends, we want it dry as soon as possible."
Because practicing inside for an outside sport gets old real fast, Sayles said.
"All we can do is hope for warmer weather soon and once it gets here, everything should melt quickly," Sayles said. "Until then we will be working hard getting ready to play, baseball weather is coming, we just have to be patient."
"There's only so much we can do inside so the earlier we can get out on the track, the better," Devine said. "We're really just trying to give our athletes a change of scenery and officially transition to the outdoor season. Having the track cleared off gives a bit of a morale boost, and a little extra surge of motivation, both a figurative and literal breath of fresh air."
Devine, who is in Boston for the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships this week, said she would not be surprised if the UMM distance runners have already been out on the cleared track.
"We hope to be outside as soon as enough black rubber is showing," Devine said. "I anticipate that with the warmer temperatures forecast for next week, we'll be out there at least a few days. Really, as long as conditions are safe for various event groups, we'll be out there."
Runners would not have had much chance to get on a snow-covered track in prior years, Devine said.
"We have definitely needed to do this in the past, but have not, at least in terms of bringing in a skid steer with a snowblower attachment," Devine said. "With as rough of shape as the track had been in recent years, it was too risky to bring anything in. We were even cautious with shovels. With the new resurfacing, the rubber is more resilient and can withstand a little more aggressive snow clearing. We still had them leave a couple inches of snow to avoid the risk of damaging the rubber." Devine said.
If Morris Area and the City of Morris does remove some snow from the ball fields next week, there is a plan.
"The idea would be to attempt to get snow removed from the foul areas, and the grass using a bigger machine, and then using more hand tools and smaller blowers to get the infield. We don't want to risk doing any damage to our field so the goal would be to clear most of it, but not going all the way down to the skin of the field," Sayles said.