By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We’ve all suffered through this April, none more so than area high school athletes waiting just to play a game.

But up in Ely, Minnesota, they’re used to conditions like this, and they’re home to a successful baseball program and a beautiful ballpark — when it’s visible.

The pictures are precious memories — the past two seasons Ely’s high school baseball team has made state, which is hard to envision right before a snowstorm.

When the storm hits, about a foot of snow covers a pristine piece of baseball.

“It’s one of those nice, small ballparks with huge grandstands,” Ely baseball coach Frank Ivancich said. “I mean, you put a couple of people in here and this place gets pretty loud. Right in the middle of town, a beautiful backdrop and just a great place to play.”

It grows difficult for an athletic director to tell his spring coaches to hang in there, but this is Minnesota. Actually, it’s nearly Canada.

“You tell them to be patient, you tell them to try and have some fun,” Ely athletic director Tom Coombe said. “You know, there’s only so much you can control. You can’t control mother nature. The one saving grace the high schools have is you know the school year goes to the end of May.”

This, too, shall pass — but when?

“We go through this — our April snows,” Frank said. “I remember a few years back playing where we’d have balls going past the first baseman and we’d have to call it dead because it hit a snowbank.”

They want baseball memories again, and they could have them.

Right now, the memories will be vivid — just different.

“In high school sports, the experiences last a lifetime and you make memories,” Tom said. “And there are memories being made here, not the memories you want to make, but something the kids will remember. They’ll look back at this spring and say, ‘Hey, remember that year? We didn’t play a baseball game until the 1st of May.”

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