Field work forces Wahconah's athletes to travel
DALTON -- They are known as the Wahconah Warriors. This spring, the school's sports teams could be called the "Wanderers."
That's because none of the school's varsity sports teams are able to call the school home. Work on the school's fields has forced most of the spring teams to play at homes away from home.
"It's not really fun," Wahconah baseball co-captain Joe DiMassimo said. "It's a lot easier to walk right out of the locker room and to be able to walk over to the field. Instead you have to drive all this way."
For DiMassimo and the Warriors, "all this way," means a trip to the Duquette Sports Academy in Hinsdale for home games.
The school's lacrosse teams aren't at home, but don't have far to go. They are practicing and playing at Nessacus Middle School, which they can get to by walking past the varsity soccer field and on a path through the trees.
The track team has it hardest. The Wahconah track and field athletes can practice on their track. But because work is being done on the football field, the Warriors have no home meets this year. Their entire schedule consists of being the visiting team.
"It's hard not being able to race at your own place," said Wahconah track athlete Tim Desmarais. "It's an advantage to have the home field."
Wahconah co-athletic director Gary Campbell Jr. said the football field and the two soccer fields are being reseeded and worked on. The baseball field has been reseeded and the installation of new clay will make the field ready to play on next spring.
"This is one step in many that we hope to do over the next few years to improve our playing fields," Campbell said, adding that the fields need rest.
The only team that has not been bothered by the field work is the softball team. Coach Dustin Belcher's squad plays its home games at Pinegrove Park.
The baseball team does practice on the junior varsity field at the high school, which lies between the varsity soccer and football fields. When it comes to games, the Warriors make the trip up Route 8.
"I was hoping they could get the actual field ready at Wahconah," said DiMassimo. "If they couldn't, then we could just deal with it."
DiMassimo and his teammates aren't strangers to the main diamond at the Sports Academy, as a lot of Dalton youth leagues and travel teams play games at the Hinsdale camp during the summer.
James McMahon is the first-year coach of the Wahconah boys track team. He said that for a first-year coach, having all of his team's meets on the road isn't necessarily a bad thing. He said it gives him more of a chance to get used to coaching.
But having the team practice at the high school is an advantage he is pleased to have.
"We don't have to worry about people finding rides to practice. We were actually at the Dalton CRA for practice [early in the spring]. We had the gym for a certain amount of time," McMahon said. "There's so much work you have to put in during a day. Now that we have two hours on the field next to the school, it's a good opportunity."
Wahconah has had a pretty successful season as road warriors. The boys were 2-3 as of May 2 and the girls were 4-1.
"We are used to [the bus rides]," said Desmarais. "We get in the zone in our own different ways. Some people listen to music. Some just sit there and relax. We're used to getting focused on the bus now."
Wahconah boys lacrosse coach Paul Lange said his team has practiced and played at Nessacus, so this wasn't that much of a shock. The Wahconah boys played last year on the soccer field and the girls played on the football field.
"As a coach, it doesn't matter," said Lange. "The guys are looking forward to it. The guys want to be at the high school. It's more visible for the student body."
Campbell said he understands that the inconvenience of this year can be wearing on parents, athletes and fans.
Wahconah will be back on its soccer and football fields in the fall, and the spring sports teams will be back in their traditional locations in 2014.
"It's hard for the parents. It's hard for the coaches. It's hard for the kids because practicing and playing on these [fields] for years and now to be displaced is certainly a difficulty," said Campbell. "In the long run, it's a good decision."
To reach Howard Herman:
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.