Cathedral soccer players battle cold weather

Published 11:57 pm Wednesday, January 6, 2010

NATCHEZ — Friday night calls for a low of 17 degrees, so walking outside in a short-sleeved shirt and shorts probably wouldn’t be very comfortable after two seconds.

When the Cathedral School boys and girls soccer teams take the field Friday, however, a short-sleeved jersey and shorts will have to suffice.

Cathedral is set to take on Wesson High School Friday, and the varsity boys and girls will have to battle both the temperature and the Cobras in order to come out with a win.

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“It’s funny, because the first time we played them back in December, it snowed,” Cathedral boys head coach Paul Burns said.

“In that game, nobody questioned me when we took the starters out after halftime. Their feet got wet and the ball would get stuck in the snow. When it came to playing in the snow, they’re glad they did it, but they never want to do it again.”

With soccer being a winter sport in Mississippi, frigid temperatures are always an added challenge for athletes. Burns said, however, that it’s worse on the backups than it is the starters.

“It’s hard on the kids at first, but we do pretty good warm up exercises,” Burns said. “Once they get going, they really don’t feel it.

“Now, we do have some players with asthma, which we have to watch. It’s also tougher for players on the sidelines, since they aren’t really moving around.”

Girls coach David Gaude agrees, and also said there isn’t much the backups can do other than bundle up.

“When they’re playing, they kind of don’t think about it, except when it comes to their hands,” Gaude said.

“When they’re on the bench, though, we won’t even be able to tell which player is which, because they’re so bundled up. We tried using (portable) heaters, but we have nylon uniforms, so there’s a safety hazard with that.”

The weather can be especially tough on keepers, Burns said, since they’re not running around as much as the rest of the players during the game.

“We tell our keeper not to just stand around, but to move around and try and keep the blood flowing,” Burns said.

Green Wave keeper Aaron Sandifer said the temperatures aren’t too much of a distraction when he’s trying to defend the Green Wave goal.

“It definitely distracts me when the ball’s on their side of the field,” Sandifer said, “but once it’s on my side, I tend to concentrate better. It’s just an adrenaline rush or something.”

With cold weather a constant issue during soccer season, some have proposed moving the sport to the fall or spring, when it would be warmer. Gaude, however, said that wouldn’t be a good idea, especially at a smaller school like Cathedral.

“We would never be able to compete with baseball and softball,” Gaude said. “We already don’t let our players play basketball. In the fall, we’d be competing with football and cheerleading.

“For a 1A school like us, everyone plays everything anyway. We just don’t want to have to make them choose.”