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Snow covered fields force Northwoods sports teams to practice inside
RHINELANDER - Here in the Northwoods, snow can stay on the ground well into the spring sports season. That means teams that rely on the outdoors for competition have to use indoor space for practice.

"It's obviously a scheduling nightmare, but we're utilizing the gym. We're utilizing our fitness center, [and] the hallways," said Rhinelander Activities Director Brian Paulson.

Track and field is one sport that's able to use that time indoors more easily.

"Baseball, softball, golf, they need indoor space, soccer, [and] they need indoor space when the snow is on the ground. For us, the hallway works. We can run in the hallway," said Rhinelander Track & Field Coach Aaron Kraemer.

But that doesn't mean practicing indoors is free of challenges.

"When you're on the track, there are marks for the hurdles. When you're on the track you have a specific spot where that high jump pit is, where that pole vault pit is," said Kraemer.

With track, baseball and softball already practicing in some capacity, Rhinelander gets creative when it comes to finding time.

"Having six sports, and going from 3:30 until probably 9:00, 9:30 at night [is tough]," said Paulson.
Finding that time will be even more difficult when soccer, golf and tennis practices start during the next two weeks.

"We have a calendar and we do it for the whole spring in case rain would come, or late snow. Everybody knows when their time is going to be. It's convenient for families, it's important for them to know when to pick their child up," said Paulson.

Limited indoor space creates some of its biggest challenges for a sport like soccer.

"[We] just do a lot of touches on the ball, short to medium range passes. You know when you're looking at a soccer field that we normally play on [is] 75 x 120 yards and this gym doesn't even come close to that," said Rhinelander Soccer Coach Dan Millot.

But when it's time to be outside, some coaches aren't afraid to make that happen.

"It's just the Northwoods, it's Wisconsin and I won't hesitate to have our entire team go out and shovel snow if I feel it's time to be outside. It's great conditioning," said Millot.

Rhinelander's first spring athletic event will be a track meet this Thursday.

Story By: Mark Spillane


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