To the average Mills student, the slick asphalt of a rainy day may be no more than an excuse to try out a cute new pair of rain boots. But for athletes, spring showers pose a threat to both the practices and the competitions of the new year.
“The rain presents some pretty big hardships,” said Athletic Director Themy Adachi. “Coaches have to figure out what they can do.”
Cyclone runners, throwers, rowers, swimmers and tennis players must deal with adversities during the spring, for poor weather detracts from their ability to give the sports their best.
“Our sprinters and our throwers have a lot of trouble,” especially when wind accompanies the rain, said Track and Field Coach Laura Davis.
“When running distance, wind affects runners, too. Wind slows them down. It really takes a toll,” she said.
Another team encumbered by the wind and rain is the tennis team. Wet and heavy tennis balls and gusty winds make it difficult to hit the balls, let alone hit them hard.
“Since there’s no indoor court, the tennis team can’t play when it rains,” said Adachi.
While Crew Coach Carrie Davis did not wish to comment, crew has some difficulty due to the rain as well. Wind that produces choppy waves makes it hard to maneuver boats through the water.
Swim, another water sport, also has trouble in the rain.
Though “you can’t get much wetter,” said Aquatics Coordinator Carol Berendsen, “if high winds or heavy rain make it impossible to see the bottom of the pool, we have to get everyone out. And if there is lightning, we have to get everyone out.”
Swim Coach Neil Virtue, however, thinks lightning is not the team’s biggest threat.
“Lightning isn’t that common,” said Virtue, “but a lack of motivation is. If your alarm goes off at 6 a.m. and it’s pouring buckets outside, are you going to want to go to swim practice?”
“It all makes you wish it were a Sunday,” said first year swimmer Katie Mitchell, referring to the one day a week most teams get a break.
Despite the past week’s traces of sunshine, it does not look like Mills teams will be getting another break in the rain any time soon. According to local weather forecasts, Oakland is going to have a wet spring, which is bad news for not just the athletes, but also for the coaches.
“Even when it doesn’t affect what we do, the rain affects the overall vibe,” said Virtue. “The swimmers don’t chat as much from the locker room to the pool, and when they get in, it’s the worst for us coaches. The swimmers get to be in 80-degree water while we are stuck standing in the cold. It’s hard on all of us in different ways.
“We can only hope that it’s not like this all semester,” said Adachi.
Even if it is, Davis is confident it won’t put athletes at too much of a disadvantage in competition.
“I tell my runners that, if they can get through this, they can get through any race,” said Davis. “Besides, if [the rain] affects us, it affects everyone else.”
Virtue, too, believes rough weather has its benefits for competition.
“I try to get my swimmers to realize what a sensational, tactile experience swimming in the rain is,” said Virtue. “It’s totally unique. And if my swimmers can learn to swim in this, they can form character and commitment that can help them in meets.”
Coaches said they plan to continue to push their athletes to the limit so that, come match time, Mills won’t have to take a rain check.