UCSB baseball coach Bob Brontsema may think twice about scheduling an early season series of games in the Northwest in the future.
The Gauchos were lucky they didn’t catch frostbite on their trip to Pullman, Wash., to play at Washington State. The story of the series was the weather.
“On Wednesday, they called us and said, ‘Hey, it looks like it’s going to be pretty cold on Friday. I think we’ll bag the Friday game, because that looks like that’s going to be the worst day of the three, and play a doubleheader on Saturday and a single on Sunday,’ ” Brontsema related to the Santa Barbara Round Table Press Luncheon crowd at Harry’s Plaza Cafe on Monday.
Brontsema said he was fine with the decision, reasoning, “You guys know your weather.”
He asked the Washington State officials if his team could get in a workout on the field because it had never played on field turf and he wanted to let the players get acclimated to the weather, “if you can get acclimated to … zero.”
Brontsema and his seniors gave a pep talk about handling the weather before leaving their bus for the field.
“It was actually a beautiful day out there, just like it is here today, except it was … 10 (degrees),” he said. “But the sun was out, there were beautiful clouds, it was just freezing. We went out there and practiced for an hour and half. When we got done we said, ‘That wasn’t bad. It felt like 16 but it was actually 10. This is not a bad deal. If this is the worst, we can do this.
“It wasn’t the worst day. It ended up being the best day.”
The Gauchos arrived at the ballpark on Saturday and it was 10 degrees with a wind chill of 1. Brontsema said the athletic director told him if the temperature didn’t get up to 25 there wouldn’t be a game.
He said the temperature reading on the message board on the WSU basketball arena read 10 degrees, but the thermometer in the baseball press box showed it was 25.
“Apparently their thermometer in the press box was busted and it was stuck on 25, which was the limit they would play, so we played,” he said.
The Arctic-like conditions were miserable, but Brontsema said his players handled it well.
“There was no whining and moaning. There were these blow torches in the dugout, so in between innings the players could de-thaw.
“I’m telling you it was cold,” he continued. “I coach third base and when I came in I couldn’t talk. My face was numb and I had to put my face in those blow torches. I’m surprised I didn’t burn my eyebrows off.
“But we played and unfortunately we lost both games in semi-close games.”
When the Gauchos arrived at the field Sunday, the field was covered in three inches of snow, so the team kept going to the airport for the return trip home.
“We’ve been rained out, frozen out, snowed out, so Mother Nature is beating us a little bit right now,” said Brontsema.
The weather shouldn’t be a problem for UCSB’s next game, Tuesday at Pepperdine.
“It should be better weather in Malibu,” said Brontsema
UCSB’s weather story stirred some memories for Westmont women’s basketball coach Kirsten Moore, who grew up in the Northwest and played college basketball at Oregon.
“I couldn’t help when you were telling your story to think of two things,” Moore told Brontsema. “One, why would you schedule a game in Pullman, Washington in February? I played there when I played in the Pac-10 and I don’t think I ever went there during basketball season, which this is still, when it wasn’t freezing.”
Moore’s second memory was about how her grandpa would take her and her brother duck hunting.
“You’re up in the dark and it’s freezing cold in the morning. My brother and I were shaking, it’s so cold. You can’t move your hands and you wonder how he could pull a trigger on a gun.”
She said her grandpa would deal with the freezing condition by saying, “It’s cool man, it’s cool.
“Maybe you should start that mantra with your guys,” Moore told Brontsema. “It’s cool man, it’s cool.”
All this cold weather talk made Westmont baseball coach Robert Ruiz almost feel guilty about his team’s trip to chilly Fresno Pacific for a GSAC twin bill last Saturday.
“We were preparing for cold weather, but now that I hear about Washington, I can’t even complain about 35 degrees,” he said. “I thought I couldn’t talk when I got back in the dugout, but (after Brontsema’s story) I don’t have the right to talk about being cold.”
In other highlights from the SBART Luncheon:
Chris Parrish, the coach of the four-time CIF girls water polo team at Dos Pueblos, brought Tiera Schroeder and Jamie Neushul, two of the team’s key players on the team that recorded its second straight undefeated season, won its third straight Division 1 championship and extended its winning streak to 67 games.
Schroeder and Neushul were huge in a wild 14-13 semifinal win against Laguna Beach in sudden-victory overtime. Neushul, a sophomore, scored five goals in that game and the Cal-bound Schroeder delivered the game-winner.
Moore and Ron Smith, Westmont’s Sports Information Director, announced that their basketball teams open the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament at home this week. The women play Vanguard on Wednesday night, while the men host Fresno Pacific on Thursday.
The women thought they’d have to travel after losing at home on Saturday against Concordia.
“We went into the locker room frustrated and bummed, thinking we’d have to go to Vanguard. We lost there in the championship game last year by two points,” said Moore.
When the team saw on the computer than Vanguard also lost that night, the mood changed.
“It wasn’t the way we scripted it, but we have a home game. This gave the kids a breath of fresh air,” said Moore.
Greg Tebbe introduced himself as the new boys tennis coach at Santa Barbara High. Tebbe played for the Dons in 1981 under legendary coach Jack Trigueiro.
“It’s great to be following in his footsteps,” Tebbe.
The footsteps aren’t the only Trigueiro tie to Tebbe. The first-year coach will have Jack’s son, Tim, working as an assistant coach.
Tim Trigueiro was a CIF champion, the U.S. Open Junior champion and the No. 1-ranked 18 year old back in 1985. He had a brief professional career.
UCSB men’s tennis coach Marty Davis lauded the play of former Santa Barbara High star Taylor Chavez-Goggin in the Gauchos’ upset of No. 43 Hawai’i on Sunday.
“He does everything right,” Davis said. “For him to have a breakout match, is so gratifying for a coach.”
Davis also noted that his team posted the highest grade-point average for the quarter of all UCSB athletic teams and earned the highest GPA of all men’s programs at the school for the third straight year.