HELENA – With all of the inclement weather we have seen so far this fall, it can be a real inconvenience when it comes to outdoor sports.
There is a lot of work that goes into preparing the field for game day. Without snow it usually takes about 130-man hours starting the Thursday before the game to get everything ready in time, so you can pretty much double that with snow.
Ever since the facilities team knew they were expecting snow, they have been hard at work, not only watching the forecast very closely but also preparing the field before the storm hits. But each storm comes with a different set of circumstances.
"Depending on when weather happens it depends on what you have to do,” says Steve Jones the Director of Athletic Operations and Facilities. “So, you can't prepare to much in advance. If it snows when it's cold it’s one thing, but if it snows when it's warm it's one thing, if it snows when the wind is blowing it creates a different scenario to contend with."
But the planning doesn’t stop when the storm passes, it continues all the way up until game time. Sometimes getting the snow off the field isn’t the only worry, because there is also a lot of physical set that takes a bit of time like setting up benches and tarps. So, preparation for game day doesn’t ever really stop until toe meets leather.
The field will be ready for game day. But the field will not be decorated as normal because colored paint doesn’t dry well in the cold weather. But they will have the lines down and everything necessary to play the game come Saturday.
Jones has been working in college athletics for 35 years, so he has seen it all. Making sure the field is ready to go for game day is the top priority because they want to make sure they are providing a good experience for their student athletes.
"It's not about us or them it's about the student athletes,” says Jones. “So, when you have everyone looking at that from the same angle it helps how you prepare and what you do to accomplish that."
Jones went on to say games are the ultimate reward for how hard the student athletes work, so everyone in the athletics department does everything they can to provide a safe and fun environment for them.
Despite the second unexpected fall snowstorm of the year, all soccer and football games scheduled for Friday and Saturday will go according to schedule.