Clearing a place to play
Who needs a weekend off?
Though the Easter holiday gave all Anchorage School District athletes a rare three days without competition, that didn’t stop dozens of Eagle River High students, parents and coaches from getting plenty of exercise.
Armed with plastic shovels and tarps, boys and girls soccer, track, baseball and football players started chipping away at the snow and ice that has blanketed their track and turf for the past six months.
“It’s a good workout,” boys head soccer coach Max Solodkii quipped. “It’s good for the forearms.”
The Wolves’ den is the site of this year’s Cook Inlet Conference soccer tournament — which is just five weeks away — and Solodkii wants to ensure the field will be ready.
Soldokii initiated the effort, but was glad so many sports teams showed up for a couple hours the morning of Saturday, April 7.
“It was definitely a school effort,” he said.
Getting the green light from ASD to clear their own track and field was a welcomed surprise for the ERHS community.
“I didn’t even know it was legal until a couple days ago,” said Shayna Wolery, a member of the girls’ soccer team. “I thought we were gonna do it in secret.”
Head track coach Matt Turner said ERHS got the OK from the district the evening of April 4.
Some of ASD’s stipulations included only using plastic shovels and tarps to move the snow — the latter was not a success, Solodkii said.
“The tarps didn’t work as well as we’d hoped because the snow was so heavy,” he said.
ASD high school supervisor Derek Hagler said on April 10 that several other schools in the district have plans to follow Eagle River’s lead and plan to shovel off their own tracks and turf fields.
Though shoveling wet snow can be backbreaking labor, Solodkii said, it also served as a way to bring his team closer together.
“More than anything, it was a team building experience,” he said. “We work together and we play together.”
There were no complaints from Eagle River’s boys soccer players, team member Josh Oberlander said.
“We kind of chugged along, sang some songs,” he said.
The heavy winter left spring athletes no choice but to pick up a shovel and start clearing the field, Oberlander said.
“We need to do it,” he said. “If we didn’t do this, we wouldn’t be able to play on our field forever.”
The students’ effort was hampered by a steady snowfall that persisted into the afternoon. According to the National Weather Service, Anchorage set a season snowfall record that day with 134.5 total inches for the winter.
“We finally see some green and it will be gone on Monday,” Turner said. “But it is less. At least we have a point of reference.”
The day wasn’t all business. A snowman was built and snowball fights broke out on the field as the shoveling effort came to an end.
“It just turned into fun,” Turner said.