Monday August 29, 2011

BRATTLEBORO -- Hurricane Irene has wreaked its watery and windy havoc on much of the East Coast, including towns like Brattleboro, Guilford and Marlboro. But local high schools are still waiting to see how downpour of rain will affect their athletic fields, and thus, the beginning of their sports seasons.

Brattleboro Union High School's groundskeeper David Zolnoski said in telephone interview on Sunday that he hadn't been to fields since the storm hit the area but that is confident they can sustain the rain.

"From past experience, I think they'll be fine. We're not that concerned," he said, adding that the fields have great drainage. "There's no running water nearby, no brooks or rivers nearby."

He mentioned that this is probably the most rain he has seen at any one particular time in his 20 or so years as the BUHS groundskeeper. He is hoping for plenty of sunshine and breeze, which he said would help dry the fields.

Zolnoski has gotten used to lots of rain in 2011, as the spring sports season provided numerous rain-outs in all sports. He added that the heavy precipiation would have more of an impact if the seasons had already started. The first BUHS game isn't scheduled until 7 p.m. on Friday, when the Colonels' football team hosts Essex at Natowich Field.

BUHS athletic director Chris Sawyer said he expects most teams to practice inside today and hopefully get outdoors by Tuesday.


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He agreed with Zolnoski's saying that the fields have excellent drainage systems.

He said he won't make any decisions until he visits the fields this morning but thinks Tenney Field, where the field hockey team practices, might needs up to two days to dry. He said he has to be careful and not ruin the fields for the rest of the fall sports season.

Sawyer said the school's varsity squads will get priority when it comes to indoor practice time.

Bellows Falls athletic director Ian Fraunfelder said he doesn't really know how the rain has affected school grounds but said the Terriers will stay off the game field today.

He added that he and the maintenance crew will inspect the field this afternoon. Fraunfelder added that all playing surfaces should be fine by Saturday, when the Terriers' football team hosts Fair Haven at Hadley Field at 1 p.m., in BF's first scheduled game of the fall season.

He's hoping the wind will help dry the fields.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 164.