With the mercury rocketing into the triple digits concerns for the safety of athletes competing and training for current and upcoming competitions is at an all-time high. The thermometer is predicted to bump the 103 degree mark today and could possibly slide even higher, according to local weather forecasts.
Cleveland Country Club general manager Lamar Mills, Polk County football coach Derrick Davis and Bradly North All-Stars assistant coach Eric Swafford realize the importance of keeping athletes safe and aware of the dangers related to the current sweltering heat.
Mills said CCC has several measures in place to help ensure golfers stay safe and enjoy a round on the links.
“We don’t really have any upcoming outing until July 9. That is the next real outing we have,” Mills said refering to the TGA Four-Ball Qualifier. “Right now one of the things we do, obviously, is we have water coolers on the course plus water fountains. We do ice towels which are available for the golfers to get on the turn to help cool down a bit. We also have a lot of refreshments on the course to help with the ice towels. Hopefully, they will also take advantage of the swimming pool when they come in.
“I definitely recommend they hydrate very well before they go out, no matter what time of day they tee off. It is important, especially in these temperatures. We haven’t really had an opportunity to adjust to them (the hot temperatures) because we have had such cool temperatures for the last four or five weeks. It has not been too bad. All of a sudden you go from nights being in the 50s to the highs being 106. You have to stay hydrated or you are not going to last in these conditions, for sure.”
Of a major concern is athletes participating in the state tournament currently under way at Bradley County Industrial Park where the 9-year old Bradly North baseball All-Stars are hoping to earn a championship.
According to assistant coach Eric Swafford, many of the games will be played after sunset to offset the chances of heat-related injury or illness.
“I think they’ve moved almost all the games to night games to try to give it a chance to try and cool off. They are going to give the kids lots of water between innings to keep them from getting dehydrated and some teams will have heavy-duty fans in the dugouts to keep players cooled off a little bit,” said Swafford. “There is a big concern for the catchers, because of all the heavy gear they have to wear, so they will be keeping an eye on them for sure. They also may have to switch out catchers more than normal.”
Although the Polk County Wildcats, as well as all high school athletes across Tennessee, are in the summer dead period mandated by the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletics Association, individual training for the July 9 return continues.
Athletes working out on their own can’t come up to the school during the TSSAA mandated dead period where no coach contact or organized activities are allowed, according to Davis. The dead period, however, does not keep athletes from working out on their own outside school parameters and athletes are advised on how to take care of themselves to avoid complications.
“This week and next week is the dead period and we don’t have any organized activities going on,” said Davis. “We gave them a suggested conditioning program where they can find a spot, since they can’t come to the school. We can’t let them use the facilities. If they are working out on their own it is up to them. You know how kids are. Some listen and some don’t. It’s like our pregame meal. We tell them don’t eat a whole lot, but some of them eat like it’s the last meal they will ever have.”
Davis went on to say many of his athletes, although subject to the same dangers as any individual working in extreme heat, are no strangers to hard work outside.
“A lot of our guys have jobs that are outside. They do a lot of [family] farming and different jobs like that. A lot of them are used to the heat. Of course, some are not and we try to talk about hydrating. You can’t wait until you get here to drink water or whatever and if you are thirsty, it is already probably too late. When we get back on July 9 we will really talk about it. We’ve been really fortunate. We haven’t had any major things happen. Kids have been good about getting used to the heat, getting out in it and trying to hydrate. We’ve been lucky there.”