Staying flexible

January 31, 2019

La PORTE — For Ed Gilliland, having athletic events postponed for numerous consecutive days isn’t that unusual.

La Porte High School’s longtime athletic director, however, is used to it happening in regular seasons and typically during the spring.

But for this particular blast of arctic temperatures and snowy weather, it’s influencing girls basketball sectionals and this week’s girls swimming and diving sectionals.

“It’s different circumstances,” Gilliland said Tuesday night. “This happens to be postponing a lot of things during the winter, where we’re kind of accustomed to doing this in the spring rather than the winter. I don’t recall having a tournament, like the girls basketball sectional affected. I don’t remember an IHSAA tournament being impacted as much as it has been with this cold spell.”

The Slicers’ girls basketball team will now play in the Class 4A Mishawaka Sectional on Saturday at 5:30 p.m., pushed back from Friday night. La Porte received a bye and will meet the Mishawaka/South Bend Riley winner. There are now three games scheduled for Friday night in that sectional, beginning at 4.

For the Chesterton girls swimming and diving sectional, tonight’s swimming preliminaries have been re-scheduled for Friday night at 5:30. Those sectional finals are still set for Saturday at 1.

La Porte’s boys basketball team, meanwhile, will now host Valparaiso in JV and varsity games on Friday night starting at 5:30. Those were originally slated for tonight.

Gilliland said with all these postponements happening during a post-season tournament week the key is to work closely with the host schools to be as accommodating as possible.

“We’re not hosting either one of those events, so our approach has been to be as cooperative as we can,” he said. “And when those schools are able to conduct those tournaments, they just need to tell us when they’re going to have them and we’ll show up and compete. We try and be as cooperative and as easy to get along with on these types of things as we possibly can because it’s difficult to schedule. There’s just a lot of factors involved.”

For instance, Gilliland added, Mishawaka really had no choice for postponing Wednesday night’s games because its school corporation determined that all activities wouldn’t take place. At that point, the athletic department really didn’t have an option.

In regards to how the process has changed for calling events off over the years, Gilliland stressed the significance of science.

“The biggest thing is just the fact we have so much more knowledge now,” he said. “With the weather forecasts, technology has really changed things dramatically. Knowing ahead of time we’re going to have these wind chill factors and how cold it’s going to be. When you have snowstorms or rain during the spring and during the fall, knowing these things in advance has really made things a lot different. Sometimes, we make decisions based on forecasts and to a certain degree, we’ve done that with school. We’re off school (today). That’s a good call on our school corporation’s part.”

While the technology has significantly improved to predict inclement weather, Gilliland tried to offer some context for this current batch of record-shatering frigid temperatures.

“I don’t quite remember postponements being extended for four days like this, though, during the middle of the winter,” he said. “This has been a little bit unique. We’ve been out of school for four days. You’d have to go back a number of years where we’ve been out for such an extended period of time.”

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