Forgive Myers Park High football coach Scott Chadwick if he wants to break out his rain dance.
Friday was the fifth day of high school football practice in North Carolina. Myers Park, which plays its first game in two weeks, has been on the football field exactly one of those days.
With heavy rains in the area daily for the past week, the Mustangs scheduled their practices at 6 p.m. because overnight storms left their fields saturated and too damp to practice on without the risk of tearing them up.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools rules do not allow teams to practice between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., generally the hottest part of the day. The rule is there to protect student-athletes from heat-related illnesses.
At Myers Park this week, the rule and the weather have just spelled frustration for Chadwick.
“This has been the most challenging first week I can remember as a head coach,” Chadwick said Friday afternoon. “Every time we go to practice, it would start pouring and we have to come in.
“We can’t practice in the morning because of the amount of rain we get in the evenings (the night before). It literally floods our fields. And, from my standpoint, our (athletics director) Rick Lewis works his tail off on our fields to get them where they are, and it’s disrespectful to him to go out there the first day and tear them up. We’re not going to do that.”
The rains have caused problems for most area teams. Coaches at Charlotte Catholic, Hough and Vance, for example, are among those to tell the Observer that rain has affected their schedule. Vance, for example, moved practice to the gym Thursday when heavy rains fell in northeast Charlotte after practice was scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
On Friday, CMS athletics director Sue Doran spoke with Lewis and Chadwick about the issues at Myers Park and granted the school permission to begin practice at 4 p.m. — a few hours earlier than the rains have typically come this week.
Things looked good, and the field had dried out — until a big rain shower hit about 2:30 p.m. Friday.
So Myers Park pushed the start of practice back an hour and planned to do some work on the tennis courts to alleviate the time on the practice field. But as soon as the players hit the court Friday, about 5 p.m., another heavy rain fell. And it didn’t stop.
Myers Park lost another day on the field. The Mustangs were back in the gym.
“I greatly appreciate (Doran) listening to our concerns and saying this is a problem and giving teams that don’t have turf permission (to practice early),” Chadwick said. “She needs to be commended for that.”
With his first game Aug. 17, Chadwick worries his team is getting behind. And Myers Park’s first two games are against Olympic and Ardrey Kell, two schools that have artificial turf fields. Those teams can practice in the rain or immediately after rain without worrying about tearing up their fields.
“I think it’s a huge competitive advantage when you have turf,” Chadwick said. “I’m not mad at anybody. It’s not cheating. Nobody’s breaking any rules, but to say it’s not a competitive advantage, I think that would be disingenuous to say.”