Field of streams: Rains wash out Tarrant County sports leagues

Waterlogged fields, like this one Sunday, have been almost as common as kids playing on them this spring at Martin Luther King Jr. Sports Center in Arlington.
Waterlogged fields, like this one Sunday, have been almost as common as kids playing on them this spring at Martin Luther King Jr. Sports Center in Arlington. Star-Telegram

Aside from the flooding, the rainy spring has mostly been great for North Texas’ parched landscape and depleted bodies of water. For the busy youth and adult recreational sports schedule, not so much.

Wendy Parker, athletics director for Arlington, put it about as colorfully and optimistically as anyone could Wednesday afternoon when yet another round of steady showers arrived in Tarrant County.

“I have seen more ducks on the softball field this season than ever!” she said by email. “I guess they are getting confused with all the puddles of water!”

From Colleyville to Fort Worth to Arlington, it’s as if all the prayers for rain over the last few years are being answered at the same time. Even for sports leagues that plan for rainouts, the number of missed games — whether postponed and made up or canceled altogether — has exceeded that of any other season in memory.

Youth select soccer should have wrapped up its regular season before the end of April, for example, said Tarik Guendouzi, director of coaching at the Fort Worth Futbol Club and program director for Fort Worth Country Day School’s girls soccer team. He oversees 25 coaches and nearly 500 players.

The scheduling problems started with the late-winter ice and snow and have only worsened with each passing week of rain, he said. Before the most recent rainy span, he expected youth select soccer leagues to keep playing till May 20 or 25.

That’s “unheard of in the 12 years I have been here in the DFW area,” he said. “The leagues have done a very good job with this problem. No one could have planned for this 2015 year. We could have planned it and still not anticipated what has happened.”

Youth baseball leagues are no better off, officials say.

Brett Smith, president of Arlington Southwest Little League — with about 1,100 players, 100 teams and 950 scheduled spring games, among the world’s largest Little Leagues — said the loss of three full Saturdays in addition to other days is “unprecedented.”

“That is impossible to replace without tearing down your existing volunteer base,” he said. “We remain committed to not playing on Wednesday nights or Sundays to allow for family time, so we have to think of different ways to get these games in.”

‘This is a bit much’

Patrick Dunagan, president of the 1,300-player Colleyville Soccer Association, also said the weather has made for an interesting season.

“It does not really feel so much as a soccer season,” he said. “We have had a serious number of Saturdays off — we have had to load up weeknights to a point that a lot of parents are not used to having to bring their children out on a weeknight for a soccer match.”

He has received few complaints about the schedule change, he said, and most parents are concerned about the number of games.

“The fact is the emails that I’m getting say, ‘We were told 10 games. We want 10 games,’” he said. “We’re working very hard to figure out how to make it happen.”

Back in Arlington, Parker, the city athletics director, jokes that “if we were offering kayaking softball we would have it made.”

On a more serious note, she said: “This year has been a bit of a challenge with all the rainout and schedule revisions. We anticipate making all the games up before the summer league kicks off on June 14. I think we all forgot what a traditional spring is like due to the drought over the past four years. However, this is a bit much. We have not had it this bad in a long time.”

Soggy golf courses

Mark Harrison, executive director of the Northern Texas PGA, which covers the part of Texas north of an east-west line that lies a little north of Austin — about 420 public and private courses and ranges — said the latest data show that participation is down 10 percent statewide. There’s a two-month lag in reporting.

“New Mexico and Tennessee are the only other states that have experienced a similar decline, and it is all weather-related in Texas,” he said. “Some of the professionals that have been working here for a long time have told me that it has been the toughest first four months they can remember.”

At Waterchase Golf Club in east Fort Worth, assistant pro Boom Sritart said the course has been a little soggy.

“We have some gung-ho golfers who will pretty much play in rain or windy weather,” Sritart said. “But this year, the weather has hurt a little.”

Staff writers Dustin Dangli, Gordon Dickson and Lee Williams contributed to this report.

Patrick M. Walker, 817-390-7423

Twitter: @patrickmwalker1

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