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Escaping a week of Scotland: Soccer practice in an ice storm

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Cowgirls huddle before the Oklahoma State vs. Texas Tech soccer match on Friday, October 30, 2020 at Neal Patterson Stadium in Stillwater.

Ben Hutchens, Sam Hutchens, Adam Engel and Jacob Sturm break down OSU's 2-1 victory over Texas Tech.

It is no coincidence Colin Carmichael no longer lives in his native country of Scotland.

Last week, Carmichael, OSU women’s soccer coach, was asked about the ice storm that halted campus life and reminded Oklahomans what winter is like.

“There’s numerous reasons I don’t live in Scotland, and that is one of them,” Carmichael said. “I’m not enjoying it one single bit.”

The mid-week ice storm might have given OSU students and soccer players two much-needed snow days, but it threw a wrench into Carmichael’s preparation schedule.

Usually, he gives his players an off day on Sunday, but after looking at the forecast and realizing that it was going to be miserable outside on Monday and Tuesday, Carmichael had a light practice on Sunday.

On Monday, as the temperature began to drop and precipitation started to accumulate, the idea of practing under a roof started to sound better and better. Carmichael opted to host practice in the Sherman E. Smith Training Center, an enclosed 92,000 square foot building on campus.

“We’re really thankful that we have access to the Sherman Smith indoor center,” Carmichael said, “it’s unbelievable.”

The facility is remarkable and tied for the largest building of its type in the Big 12 Conference, however, there were still some adjustments that needed to be made in order to have soccer practice.

The turf field that the building’s floor is made up of is only around 60 yards wide (the length of a football field plus a few yards on either side), so Carmichael can’t run all the drills in his arsenal.

But after wheeling in a couple of goals, the team can do pretty much anything they need to do to prepare for a match.

“It’s awesome,” Carmichael said, “there’s not a lot of schools that have that type of facility. A lot of them have small indoor facilities that they can use, but for us to be able to basically do a full practice and not have to adjust too much is awesome.”

The biggest adjustment the soccer team has to make when going to use the facility is making sure its practice time doesn’t conflict with another OSU team’s practice.

Carmichael said that usually, if he feels like his team will need the Sherman E. Smith center, he will reach out and find out what the schedule looks like ahead of time.

“The coaches are actually good to work with, you know working with Mack Butler and coach Gundy,” Carmichael said. “Since we’re in-season we get a little bit of precedence, I think. Certainly, in the winter and in the spring if softball or baseball need in there, we (give them that opportunity).”

Although it was undoubtedly more bearable than practicing outdoors in freezing temperatures and sleet, there was a common sentiment among a couple of the soccer players who didn’t escape the chilly weather altogether.

“It was cold… at the end of practice I was like, ‘Oh my gosh it’s super freezing and I can’t feel my hands,’” said senior forward Gabriella Coleman.

Transfer Goalkeeper Emily Plotz had her first taste of practice in the building last week.

“I thought it would be a little bit warmer, but it was still pretty freezing out… I was surprised about how cold I actually was,” Plotz said. “I wasn’t really layered up the first time, and every ball that hit me hurt so much more.”