Nov. 19, 2009

By Jennifer Gunnels
Special to

Student-athletes at the Metropolitan State College of Denver are known as the Roadrunners, but they might be more appropriately named the Minutemen.

When a Denver snowstorm dumped approximately eight inches of snow overnight on Auraria Field where the school was preparing to host a second-round game in the Division II Women’s Soccer Championship on Sunday, student-athletes from the baseball and softball teams assembled on short notice to help shovel the field.

“We were trying to get Friday’s game in before the weather got nasty, and we just made it,” said Sandee Mott, associate athletics director for compliance at Metro State. “Saturday night was just ridiculous, but we knew it was coming so we had a plan in place.”

After seeing the weekend forecast, administrators notified the baseball and softball coaches that their student-athletes might be needed to help prepare the field for the Sunday afternoon game. Without enough shovels to go around, student-athletes were divided into three shifts to assist the grounds crew in clearing the field. Ten baseball student-athletes arrived at 9 a.m. and were relieved at 11 a.m. by ten of their teammates. At 1 p.m. the entire softball team arrived to put the finishing touches on the field.

“We were planning to be there anyway to cheer on the team, so we all arrived and just got to work on clearing the field,” said Jen Fisher, head softball coach. “The corners were still pretty covered in snow when we got there, so the girls got those cleared off to make room for the corner kicks.”

On an urban campus of approximately 23,000, student-athletes at Metro State are a close-knit family.

“I think it starts with the coaches,” Fisher said. “We have a lot of respect for each other and try to help each other out as much as possible. Our kids have a lot of mutual respect for each other too and see that the other teams work just as hard as they do. They’re great about supporting each other.”

Although the game had to be pushed back by an hour to ensure that the field was ready for play, the match between Metro State and the visiting University of Minnesota, Duluth otherwise went on as planned. In a thrilling overtime finish, Becca Mays scored her second goal of the game to ice the victory for the Roadrunners. Among the happy spectators were members of the softball and baseball teams.

“It wasn’t as cold out that morning as we thought it was going to be, and I think they ended up having some fun with it out there,” Mott said of the morning task. “The softball team just makes anything into a party wherever they go. They stuck around and did a great job leading the crowd in cheering on the team.”

The No. 4-ranked Roadrunners now advance to face the Orediggers of the Colorado School of Mines on Friday morning at home. The forecast for game time is sunny with a high of 54 degrees, and even though their snow-shoveling services likely won’t be needed, student-athletes from the baseball and softball teams plan to be in attendance.

“I think some of our girls are hoping that the soccer team’s success will rub off on them, too,” Fisher said.