Competing in the cold


Sean Hoey

At 2:43, Sr. Hunter Myrick leaves class, heads to the parking lot, and jumps into his car. He makes the short drive over to Macatawa Legends golf course for practice. He grabs his bag and heads into the locker room. Myrick quickly changes into golf clothes and heads to the range. Besides the normal attire, Myrick had made sure to put on lots of layers. It is 38 degrees outside, the wind is whipping, and golf is going to be played no matter the conditions. Spring sports athletes have to deal with the cold weather, which has a dramatic impact.

  Baseball is a sport of thinking and reacting. “With baseball, it is crucial to be able to react quickly to different situations, and because of the cold you could tend to react a bit slower and bad things can happen,” Jr. Travis Bethke said. When it is freezing outside, the only thing the players can think about is how they can warm themselves up.

  This spring, the team was able to get outside during tryouts, a rarity for baseball. As they started practicing outside, though, the temperature only seemed to drop. The players soon started to notice the effects of the chilling temperatures. “I was on the field receiving a throw down to second from the catcher. I was stiff and I could feel my muscles start to tighten up. Because of this, I overcompensated for my slow muscles. The ball tipped off my glove and connected with my eye,” Bethke said. Luckily, a black eye was the extent of Bethke’s injuries from the play.

  Golf requires a lot of precise shots and a lot of thinking. When golfers are only thinking about how cold they are, it distracts them from making the best possible shots. The cold weather definitely has an effect on a golfer’s performance, “During tryouts, I noticed that my driver and all my other clubs were going way shorter than normal. The clubs aren’t warm and the balls aren’t warm,” Myrick said.

  The cold temperatures aren’t the only factor that affects the golfers, “The wind too. It’s really hard to judge where to aim, how hard to hit it, and how long to play it.” Players regularly play with stiff and cold muscles. The cold can make it difficult to grip the clubs, which, in turn, makes play much more difficult. The cold also affects the equipment. Myrick learned this first hand. He was out at the heated outdoor range at Maple Hill when he felt a shooting pain up his arm. When he looked down, Myrick noticed that the head of his six iron had shattered. Not only do the players feel the effect of the cold, so does their equipment.

  Golf equipment is not the only equipment that takes a beating. Lacrosse players can also experience similar problems with their equipment. “Our sticks take most of the beating. It was cold, about 30 degrees, before our first game, and I was warming up by taking some faceoffs. This puts a lot of stress on our sticks. Two minutes before, my game stick snapped in half. I had to go out and play with a new stick that I had never used,” Jr. TJ Denhof said. Ultimately the stick change didn’t phase Denhof; he won 100 percent of his faceoffs that night.

  Track athletes also feel the effects of the cold weather. It is very important for track athletes to get stretched well in order to perform to the best of their ability. “We have to make sure we are really stretched out beforehand; we have to make sure we’re loose, and we have to make sure we’re warm,” Sr. long jumper Isaac Laman said. This helps the tracks athletes prevent injuries from the cold weather. The team also does other activities to keep themselves warm. “We usually start by doing core in the wrestling room so that we are already nice and warm for when we go outside for our workout,” Laman said. This stretching takes away from the time that the athletes need in order to do their actual track workout. This past week, one of the pole vaulters poles snapped because of the cold weather. This puts the pole vaulter at great risk for injury.              

  As the weather warms up the WO spring sports teams look to put up great numbers and win championships. To find out when the different teams play go to Come out and support the Panthers play this spring.