COLUMBUS — Montana's spring sports season is several weeks in, but old-man winter refuses to cooperate.
That's made life tough on the inaugural baseball season, as teams like the Sidney Eagles didn't even get on the diamond until opening day in Columbus.
“I think we're dealing with the realities of baseball in Montana this year," Sidney head coach Hunter Gordon said. "It's been talked about for years and everybody knew coming into this season that weather would be a challenge for teams. I don't know if we quite expected things to be this bad right off the bat, and I know we aren't alone in that situation. Teams all over the state are dealing with that issue."
But that’s not even the biggest obstacle for Sidney. The Eagles and Columbus are the only two teams playing high school baseball that are east of Belgrade, meaning Sidney has an incredible amount of travel on deck.
“When we go to Belgrade we'll leave the day before, stay in Billings then travel up. We'll try to cut some of that travel time down so it's not all in one day and we aren't worn out when we show up," Gordon said.
Get this -- on Sidney’s four total road trips in state, they’re traveling coast-to-coast, going farther than you would from Los Angeles to New York City. Those round trips to Columbus, Belgrade, Butte and Lewistown tally exactly 3,000 miles.
Sidney will play multiple teams in single locations, as well as North Dakota schools Stanley, Williston and Watford City, but will only cross the border for games once – a 234-mile round trip to Stanley.
“We understand and we're kind of used to it. And we knew jumping into this thing, being where we are, that it would be a challenge to work through. But at the same time, some of these teams are coming to play us, too. Belgrade, Butte — they're coming to Sidney," Gordon said.
Plenty of hours on the bus are ahead for the Eagles, who coach Gordon says will figure out entertaining ways to pass the time.