KENNEWICK — A little snow storm wasn't going to get in the way of the big game. Not if the Kamiakin community had anything to do with it.
The Kamiakin High School football team is scheduled to face Olympia's Capital Cougars in the 3A state semi-finals 1 p.m. Saturday at Lampson Stadium in Kennewick.
But the winter storm that hit the region Monday covered the field and bleachers with a thick, frozen blanket.
Rather than let the home advantage evaporate and play in a covered stadium west of the mountains, the team mobilized players, coaches, parents and fans to clear the home turf.
The call was put out for 11 a.m. Wednesday.
At about 10:30, four of the team's coaches and their families were getting a head start.
The effort looked futile at that point.
The white field seemed ridiculously large compared to the small group scraping away at its corners.
People kicked and stabbed at the ice, pausing occasionally to stare out at the frozen expanse of 57,600 square feet.
While most of the group moved across the field, two men were working their way down the length of it, uncovering the sidelines.
"We're trying to identify where the field is, to set up a starting point," said Chad Potter, Kamiakin's special teams coordinator. "I'm just hoping people will show up."
Shortly after 11 a.m., volunteers and players trickled in slowly but steadily.
"See these two-man teams?" Tim Maher told the arriving volunteers in his practiced defensive-coordinator voice. "You break up the ice with the end of your handle and then sweep it into piles every five yards."
The newcomers followed his directions, holding their shovels and brooms upside down and hacking at the ice with the handle's point -- shovel blades could slice the artificial turf.
Maher's been at Kamiakin for 33 years, he said, but he's never had to do this.
"This is the first day on the field with a snow shovel," he said.
He was not the designated snow coordinator at the onset. He just could not bear the sight of volunteers fumbling about.
"I used to own a construction company," Maher said. "When I see chaos, I know somebody needs to run this."
By noon, 100 supporters of all ages were at work. Some obligated by family ties.
"We're the coach's in-laws," said Lonnie and Eileen Willis. "We figured we might as well come out and shovel and then go back to eating pumpkin pie."
Some were students.
"We were going to go to the annual turkey bowl," Emily DeFord said. "But then our friends said to come here instead."
She was there with Samantha Ewing and Alexis Scott -- juniors at Kamiakin.
Some didn't have much choice.
"My son said, 'Mom, what are you doing tomorrow?' " Susi Oord said.
Her son, Drew, is a starting linebacker for the team.
For her, it was either shovel snow or drive across the state.
"I've never missed a game and don't plan on it," she said. "I'm going to this game; I'll just wear my snow pants."
The head coach was determined to keep the game at home.
"We've had a couple of sites as backup, but we'll do whatever we can to not use those options," said Scott Biglin. "We definitely want to play here."
By 1:30 p.m., it looked as though coach would get his wish.
Long rows of crushed ice and snow stretched across the field, green turf showing between them. A small tractor pushed the lines into piles at the north end of the field.
Most of the field was clear and the rest would be by mid-afternoon. Then the volunteers moved on to the south bleachers.
Among them was Don Schumacher, Kamiakin's athletic director.
He praised the efforts of the community to keep the game at home, noting that another regional school will benefit too.
The 1A semifinal between Omak and Connell high schools was supposed to be held at Lion's Field in Moses Lake, the closest good-sized stadium to Connell.
But Lion's Field is snowed out too. Since no Moses Lake team is playing in the semifinal, and Connell's supporters are 45 miles away, nobody came to clear that field by hand.
Now, the Connell students and parents don't have to drive for hours to get to an indoor field. They play their game at the Kennewick stadium at 4 p.m. Saturday.
* Jacques Von Lunen: 509-582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org