Calgary minor league spring sports delayed by snowy, chilly weather

Calgary recreational sports leagues will be missing games as the city won't be opening fields in time for spring seasons.

'This is all in Mother Nature's hands,' softball association director says

Calgary kids won't be on the softball, football and soccer fields any time soon due to the excess of snow that fell this winter. (Richard Buchan/Canadian Press)

Calgary recreational sports leagues will be missing games as the city won't be opening fields in time for spring seasons.

Baseball diamonds, outdoor tracks and soccer and football fields are all covered in too much snow to allow children to play in early April.

Instead, the city is projecting parks will open April 15 or later, a month after some youth sports teams were scheduled to start practicing and holding games.

According to the director of the Calgary Minor Softball Association, this is incredibly unusual — and the first season opener weather delay she's seen.

"It's hard. What do we do? You sit and wait for Mother Nature to bring that warm sun. It's all we can do," said Kathy Worthington, who heads the league.

Kathy Worthington heads the Calgary Minor Softball Association. (Mike Symington/CBC)

The Canadian Prairies are under a cold snap predicted to last at least another few weeks. Calgary and southern Alberta have seen unusually heavy amounts of snowfall this winter, as well.

Hoping for sunshine

The City of Calgary sent out an email this week to leagues that rent city parks, a copy of which Worthington provided to the Calgary Eyeopener.

Affected parks include artificial turf fields, natural grass fields, diamonds, tracks and the Velodrome, the email said. The department is estimating April 15 for an opening date but said that may be pushed back.

"We're not sure at this point but we do anticipate there will be a delay in the opening of our fields due to the snowpack and the unfortunate weather conditions that we have outside," Greg Dycke, an operations superintendent, told CBC News on Wednesday afternoon. "It's not warming up and the snow's not going away."

Field rental cancellations will be refunded to leagues, and any updates will be posted to the city's website.

Greg Dycke, an operations superintendent with City of Calgary athletic parks, says the city isn't sure when fields will be open to sports teams. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Spring football for 15- to 18-year-olds is already behind. The league's first game was scheduled last week. Pre-season soccer is also behind, having opened last year mid-March. 

It'll be up to the leagues and teams to schedule make-up games or refund parents.

That may be a problem for some of the junior teams, Worthington said, whose spring season normally finishes at the end of June along with the school semester. With the start of July, families become busy with summer holidays and day camps, she said.

City of Calgary sent this note to sports leagues on Tuesday, warning athletic parks may open late due to "extended cold temperatures and above normal snowfall this past winter." (City of Calgary)

More than 2,000 softball players will be affected by the delays, she said, and that's not counting other sports such as soccer or football.

"Everyone's excited to get out on the field," she said. "There's nothing we can do. This is all in Mother Nature's hands."

Worthington said districts near Calgary are dealing with similar problems of snow-covered fields delaying seasons.

With files from Dave Gilson, Donna McElligott and the Calgary Eyeopener.