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April Blizzard Snows Out Spring Sports

By Rebecca A. Blaeser

After waking up under a blanket of over two feet of snow, it was painfully evident that Mother Nature took April Fool's Day a little too far this year.

Unfortunately, many didn't find the joke funny. With the white stuff piled up along the roadside, Harvard's spring athletes sat in their dorm rooms gazing out into the Winter wonderland while thoughts of postponements and indoor practices flooded their minds.

It is very frustrating because it slows down the progress of our team," said women's lacrosse co-captain Daphne Clark, whose team had its home game against Yale canceled today. "We can practice all week indoors, but it's not close to the experience of being takes a lot of effort to get people going."

What is most backbreaking about this April Nor'easter is that it comes at a time when most teams have just returned from their spring break trips, primarily from sunny locales around the globe. After an 11-game stint in Florida, for instance, the Harvard baseball team was met with a harsh New England reality as it stepped off the plane.

"After coming back from Florida and being outside for so many games, it was definitely frustrating to then have to come back indoors." said sophomore pitcher and Florida native Neil Magnuson.

The baseball team was not alone, as many other Crimson squads have experienced the jolt of Old Man Winter. Both the men's lacrosse and the softball team are still bronzed from their tripe to Florida and California respectively, but now, back in Cambridge, they are forced to battle for precious practice time in Harvard's sole indoor facility&mdashBriggs Cage.

Similarly, the men's golf team, fresh from its Mexican voyage, can only simulate its game within the confines of a small cage. With sports so directed and dependent upon the outdoor environment, it is no surprise that the mental toughness of the athletes soon becomes the focal point of training, as frustration must be kept in check.

"It's as if you're trying to play golf indoors and that just doesn't happen," said co-captain Louis Sanchez, referring to his team's banishment into the indoor golf cage. "A swing that looks good in a cage would be horrendous on a golf course. So playing indoors does not in any way enhance our performance on the field. It just isn't the same."

"The elements come into play a lot when you play a game like baseball," Magnuson agreed. "When you're indoors you aren't able to simulate the environment so it is very limiting. To go back inside is almost counterproductive."

With so much talk of the varsity teams, many neglect the sacrifices of the other clubs. In particular, the junior varsity. (J.V.), which continually suffer the pangs of performing in the shadows of its varsity counterparts, endure the harshest blows during inclement weather.

After Carey Cage&mdashformerly Harvard's main weightlifting center&mdashwas leveled last fall, practice times and facilities have become increasingly limited. The situation has reached the point where some J.V. teams are forced to play games with few, if any practices beforehand.

"We've only had two practices when normally we would have 15," said senior Jon Doolittle, a member of the J.V. baseball team. "Like I said, there are good and bad things about having so many teams, and one bad thing is that there just aren't enough facilities. Right now there are more team than practice teams."

With so many laments and frustrations surrounding this sudden storm, is there any good to be found?

"We are looking at it in a positive light," Clark said. "We have the day off tomorrow [because of the snow] and then we hope to have a good game on Friday and go on from there."

There is on advantage [to being indoors] in that everyone is closer to what is happening and we can get down to doing things quicker," Magnuson said. "When you are in there so close together, there is some bonding going on."

Although temperatures are expected return to normal within the next couple days, the spring sports teams must make the best of the current situation until the playing fields rebound from the winter blast.

The one certitude is that many Harvard athletes are hoping Mother Nature quickly rescinds her April Fool's Joke and returns spring to its natural state.

Only then can the games truly begin.

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