High School Sports

It’s brutally cold and windy around Fort Worth. How do outdoor athletes cope?

McKenna Pate of Keller says she’d prefer to play in the cold than play in windy conditions.
McKenna Pate of Keller says she’d prefer to play in the cold than play in windy conditions. KellerPix

The recent rush of dropping temperatures has put local soccer teams a little behind schedule. The season began last week, but only if tournament games weren’t canceled because of the ultra-cold weather.

From now through the end of the season in the spring, the weather will inevitably fluctuate from bitter cold to days of high humidity and heat.

Teams are used to the bouncing thermometers. They prefer those conditions over another Texas staple: high wind.

Several area players gave their take on how they deal with the bitter cold and also were asked about their choice between playing in freezing weather or in warm temperatures but with hard winds.

The unscientific study yielded a unanimous finding: They’d rather wrap on the layers to cope with brutal cold than play in the wind. Any day.

But that choice isn’t ever a realistic option. So, how do teams and players deal with putting on shorts and short-sleeved jerseys and playing in the elements?

Billy Griffiths, the head girls soccer coach at Keller, said the school district’s policy states play will be canceled if the temperature or wind chill is below 29 degrees. That means at 32 degrees, it would take just a slight breeze to bring play to a halt.

In fact, Mansfield head coach George Velten said their early season schedule had been frozen (bad pun definitely intended) and they were getting back on track last weekend.

The Lady Tigers’ Kate Holland said she tries to block out the cold around her as much as possible and will sometimes grab gloves and ear warmers.

But the wind, Holland said, “puts a different spin on the ball.”

Mansfield teammate Destiny Culclager does what most soccer players opt for in layering.

“I really just do Under Armor under my jersey to keep my arms warm. It just comes with playing. I can put on a parka and pants when I’m on the bench,” Culclager said.

The preference is definitely the cold over heat for the senior Culclager.

“Heat is all-around death for me. I heat up really fast, and I can play harder and longer in the cold. Heat defeats me, like when I see the heat radiate off the turf.”

It is partly mental, too, and softballers aren’t immune to the issue of extreme temps, and more so than the impact of wind.

At Colleyville Heritage, cold is four-letter word.

Heritage head softball coach Allison Conaway admits to being tough on her girls when it’s cold.

“I told them they can’t say the word ‘cold,’ nor can they act like they’re cold,” Conaway said.

Part of the prep for the weather is mental and teaching her girls what to wear in the cold, she said.

Sweatshirts and hoodies on Lady Panthers during games is a no-no, but Conaway uses a proven concept in dealing with playing in the cold along with the district’s guidelines.

“The school district has a policy, but I use the common-sense test mostly,” she said. “Softball isn’t like soccer, with … all the standing around.

“We don’t let them outside if it isn’t safe,” Conaway said.

At Mansfield Summit, senior defender Tanner Bailey educated us on why many soccer girls said they don’t pull on gloves or leggings in the cold weather.

“It’s hard to wear gloves because of the throw-ins,” Bailey said. “I normally just pull the thermal long sleeves over my hands. There’s not much you can do. And leggings are just uncomfortable when I play and I get hot fast.”

Samantha Dominguez and Makenna Pate, a Lubbock Christian commit, at Keller agreed on the discomfort of leggings and the consideration of throw-ins when ditching the gloves.

“And I’m more of a cold-weather player,” said Dominguez. “I’d prefer 35 degrees all the time.”

Pate summed up all the players randomly polled on the bigger adversary.

“I’m not a big fan of the wind, so I’d take the cold,” Pate said.