Please be assured that WAWSL is committed to maximizing our season and does not close fields or cancel games without careful consideration. However, we need to make field closing decisions consistent with the guidelines and expectations of the agencies that permit us to use the fields.
WAWSL plays on fields allocated by permits or other agreements from DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), National Park Services (NPS), Montgomery County, and several schools and universities. All have guidelines for when fields must be closed. We are required to implement those guidelines or risk losing the right to play on the fields. Actual field closing decisions are generally made by the Field Coordinators and the WAWSL Commissioner, with appropriate communication with the permit issuing bodies.
Only in extreme circumstances will WAWSL cancel matches on field turf. Referees may cancel games at the field if it is truly unplayable/unsafe. Referees should use their judgement in determining if field conditions are unplayable. Referees--please do not simply cancel games because it's cold and wet.
In general, we have a responsibility to ourselves and other field users not to play on grass fields when we might cause damage. A field can be damaged by playing when the ground is too wet. A wet field loosens the grass roots so that active play will pull the turf up. The grass won't grow back once it is gone without significant field rehabilitation.
If rain has fallen overnight, or significant rain has fallen during the preceding day, we check conditions beginning at approximately 6:15am on Saturday. We use rain reports from several weather sites, the current weather radar, and inspections of conditions at specific fields. Standing water on any field is reason to disqualify it, although we know that several fields have some holes we have to live with since the rest of the field is playable. A field is also considered unplayable if a foot causes water to rise, even if this is the case over as little as ten percent of the total area (this is the squish test). Another guideline used is whether more than 1/2 an inch of rain has fallen in the past 24 hours.
By 6:45am, based on all of the input and substantial experience with the specific fields in our inventory, we must decide if some or all fields will be playable by the time of the first game. The goal is to post field closings on the Inclement Weather Hotline (703-827-7907) and the web site (www.wawsl.org) by 7:00am for coaches, players, and referees. If necessary, a decision regarding later games on Saturday will be posted at approximately 10:00am.
Soccer is an all-weather sport. However, a few of our fields are not all-weather fields. We must be good stewards or risk losing the fields.
Let's all hope for good weather in the weekends to come!