Area athletes playing it safe in the heat

With temperatures climbing into the low 90s and not much of a cooling breeze to speak of, the turf soccer field at Grand Haven High School was nearly unbearable to play on Monday. But dozens of young soccer players shrugged off the oppressive heat on the first day of the Lakeshore Premier Soccer Club camp, which will run all week. That means it's up to the players before hand, then the coaches during the event, to make sure that the heat doesn't lead to serious safety concerns.
Matt DeYoung
Jul 19, 2011

“First off, we want them to pre-hydrate,” said camp director Patrick Moran. “Then we have to give frequent rests, frequent water breaks. We’ll do team things and switch on and off so they’re not playing constantly.”

Moran said that paying attention to the group as a whole is one thing, but watching each individual takes a trained eye, and can be even more important.

“The biggest thing to me is, you have to keep an eye on each of the kids,” he said. “You could have 17 of the 18 kids in the group who are OK, but that one who had pizza for lunch and who drank soda at a sleepover the night before, and he might be struggling.”

Moran has been trained to recognize the effects of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, and said that if a player begins to exhibit any of those signs, immediate action is taken.

It’s not only the athletes who have to be careful on a hot day.

“Actually, I’m equally concerned about our coaches,” Moran said. “The kids only have to do 90 minutes. The coaches are here for six hours, so we have a cooler full of cold drinks and we brought in some shade as well.”

The Lakeshore Premier Soccer Club is a cooperative club combining the top players from the Tri-Cities Strikers, the Fruitport Fire, the Muskegon Lakers and the Sailors Soccer Club. Part of the perk of being a team member is the opportunity to particiapte in the week-long camp that began Monday and runs through the end of the week.

At Spring Lake, Lakers’ head athletic trainer Bill Dunn said the school’s coaches do a good job at trying to schedule outdoor training or camps early in the morning or in the evening, when the heat and humidity are less of a concern. For example, Spring Lake’s varsity football team goes about its off-season training from 7:15-8:15 a.m., then enters an air-conditioned weight room later in the morning.

“I’m just hoping it’s not this bad in August when (fall) practices get underway,” Dunn said. Cramping among the athletes “is one thing you look for, as well as light headiness. We preach to the kids to hydrate in advance, not just a couple hours before. It’s more important to be prepared 2-3 days in advance.

“For the most part, the kids are pretty good about it, but some of them don’t know that milk won’t help,” Dunn added. “Soft drinks or juice won’t, either. It’s got to be water.”
 

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