The art of surviving spring sports in Montana

Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s March 2017 issue. Never miss an issue, check out SFM’s digital editions, here

article by Rebecca Stewart

Fact: Spring begins on March 20. Truth: Montana weather is not known to abide by silly things like seasons. Reality: Adaptability is key for participants and spectators of “spring” sports in Montana. Seriously.

As kids begin to fill diamonds and race around tracks all over the everywhere, a few things come to mind: sunflower seeds, the smell of freshly cut grass, bleacher butt, sunscreen, and racing from one field to another (a clone, though often wished for, doesn’t mesh with reality, so divide and conquer tends to be the battle cry). For us here in Big Sky Country, though, we tend to bring a little something extra to the season…Sometimes literally.

Surviving Spring Sports in Montana

  • You don’t have to just worry about a game getting rained out, but games and practices are in danger of being cancelled on account of snow. Tracksters and softball players begrudgingly adapt to indoor gym practices.
  • Kids are often seen with three layers of clothes in addition to their winter coats. At times it’s like watching a marshmallow try to play ball.
  • It’s a noteworthy occasion if you make it through a season without all of the layering. No, seriously, in 2015 I called it a “Montana miracle” when we made it through an entire softball season without ever pulling the girl’s stocking hat out of the bag. Facebook official, people, that’s serious business. Although…full disclosure, that season I did wear my rainboots to one of the games. What? It can get muddy at the first base coach’s box.
  • Some days the only body parts of the fans that are visible are their faces, as they too are bundled up from head to toe. Only they get the added bonus of being wrapped in blankets.
  • Meanwhile coaches are left making tricky decisions like: Is that puddle a.k.a. lake surrounding first base really a game-canceller or at what point is the cold too cold or pulling on an amateur weatherperson’s hat when lightening seems to be inching closer.
  • During the spring sports season, the smart fan will have the following stocked in their trunk for the entire season: Winter coats, blankets, gloves, hats, umbrellas, sunscreen, and chairs. Oh, and sunflower seeds, of course.
  • But it’s not all cold and freezing, the next game we could be wearing shorts, following that up with a “breeze” that has the potential to send you straight back to Oz.

Yes, adaptability is the name of the game if you’re going to survive spring sports in Montana. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it sure does make for some memorable moments.