The heat is on for soccer lovers
HUNTINGTON -- On Saturday, a group of teen girls on a Maine soccer team visiting Heritage Farm Museum and Village noticed it was getting a little toasty and it was only in the 80s.
They hadn't seen anything yet.
If Maine's idyllic breeze-blown Northern summers are well advertised as "the way life should be," here in West Virginia, sitting on top of the South, summers are "the way a sauna should be" -- hot and humid.
As the US Youth Soccer Region I Championships crank up the action toward Tuesday's championships, it truly will become a survival of the fittest as the sauna is back on. In the words of WSAZ Chief Meteorologist Tony Cavalier, "as for Monday and the new work week, an old-fashioned heat wave is on tap."
While temps through Saturday had stayed in the 80s with relatively low humidity, temperatures on Sunday were sizzling above 90, and by Monday and Tuesday are spring-boarding into broil with near-record territory with highs projected for 96 today and Tuesday, and with heat indexes of 103 and 104 degrees, respectively, according to Accuweather.com.
Tuesday's projected temperature is within two degrees of the record 98 degrees set in 1999. Normal temperatures for this time of year are about 85.
On Sunday, the jacked-up heat started the water flowing even more freely. Beginning with the 11 a.m. Sunday games, games at both the Barboursville Park and YMCA sites stopped quarterly for mandatory water breaks, instead of waiting until the half.
Erika Duncan, a volunteer field marshal who has worked all day all three days, said the heat was definitely changing the timbre of the game.
A Scotland native and senior on Marshall University Women's Soccer Team, Duncan said things were amping up on Sunday as the mercury rose.
"Today, the play is getting a little feisty," Duncan said. "Everybody's getting hot and tired, and the games are getting more intense, and the coaches are getting more intense. Today, they're definitely substituting a lot more like a couple times in a half, and as a player, you've got to constantly be taking in water, and playing-wise you've got to let the ball do the work."
As teams and coaches left everything on the field, trying desperately to make today's semifinal field that has 72 teams, and then onto the 36 teams that will be left to play Tuesday in the finals, folks on the sidelines made sure they were being watched for hydration.
Off the field, Brian Music, head of the West Virginia Soccer Club, said an army of volunteers (about 15 to 20 just at the YMCA site) were doing the work making sure players, coaches, refs and fans were hydrated.
Jumping out of a golf cart packed with fresh water, Mark Howerton and Rick Lightner were part of that team making sure the two 5-gallon jugs at each field never were emptied.
And when one Sunday afternoon U-19 game ended, other volunteers walked over and began spraying the three referees with a cooling rain of water.
At the Y site, fans sought shade wherever they could find it. At Field 21, the "gold circle seating" was found by dozens of folks who sat under the deep shade of two large rows of old pines.
Carsten Uffman, maybe the youngest soccer fan at the tournament at 9 weeks, had double shade on Sunday afternoon, and a small babysitting team watching him and the game.
Carsten was under a giant canopy full of tourism brochures with his dad, Greg Uffman, and Carsten's grandmother, Louise Kohlmyer, and uncle, Neil Kohlmeyer, while Carsten played under the big tent and his own tiny baby tent with additional shade.
The family rooted on the Beadling U-19 girls from Pittsburgh coached by Carsten's mom, Lesley, and Carsten's grandpa, Denny Kohlmyer.
"Thank God this tent was here," Louise said while watching Beadling, one of the nation's oldest soccer clubs that was started in 1898.
While fans found shade, they also found refreshment as well.
Zul's frozen lemonade stand went through more than 1,000 cups at Barboursville. At the Y, Jeremiah Reed and Heather Brooks doled out $4 strawberry, blue raspberry and lemon ices until they ran out.
New Jersey resident Bob Bair, a member of the US Region 1 committee, said in his 18 years, he's seen the Regional Tournament hot, cold, raining and lightning, and has confidence that they'll make it through no matter what Mother Nature throws at them.
Fellow organizers gave a hearty amen to that sentiment.
Kristi Richmond, secretary for the WV Soccer Association, said after the torrential rains last year that caused games to be moved to turf fields and Blackhawk helicopters to fly in to try to dry the Y fields, this steady sun-drenched forecast of what fellow volunteer Anne Hildebrand called "Huntington normal" was just fine by them.
Richmond said the volunteers were just all thankful they didn't have a use for all of the matching blue ponchos that had been made for them this weekend.
"We're not complaining about the heat because it's not raining," Richmond said.
Here are some tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on preventing Heat-Related Illness and its Health Studies Branch as well as symptoms for heat-related illness from the Mayo Clinic, online at www.mayoclinic.com.
DRINK MORE: Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. If you are exercising, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning: If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.
DON'T DRINK SUGARY OR REALLY COLD DRINKS: Don't drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar - these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
KEEP AN EYE ON THOSE AT RISK: For fans, watch out for these groups of people who are at a greater risk than others: Infants and young children, seniors or folks 65 or older, people who have a mental illness, those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure.
STAY IN THE SHADE: For fans, try and rest often in shady areas and protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels).
SYMPTOMS OF HEAT STRESS: During hot-weather exercise, be on the lookout for heat-related illness. Signs and symptoms may include weakness, headache, dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting and rapid heartbeat. If you suspect a heat-related illness, stop exercising and get out of the heat. Drink water, and wet and fan your skin. If you don't feel better within 60 minutes, contact your doctor. If you develop a fever higher than 102 F or become faint or confused, seek immediate medical help.