Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
For most of the year, the New Mexico weather can be downright tricky. It’s either too windy or it rains at the wrong time. When it comes to Hike It and Spike It, it is hot. Nasty hot. On Friday, the thermostat hit 100 degrees.
For the first day of competition on Saturday, the temperature is expected to be 103 degrees, and with more of the same heat on Sunday. Teams and officials can ill-afford to cramp up with possible titles and ‘Show Me the Money’ dollars on the line.
At the officials meeting on Friday night, Jeremy Cosby from the national office has been telling the referees to hydrate and stay cool. If possible, call other officials if they need ice, water, lunch or a break.
“We’re telling the officials they need to lean on us,” Cosby said. “Jeff Weathers is the local guy that heads up the recruiting here. He’s done a great job. Last year was the best officiating year we had. This year, we’re looking at it as it’s going to be even better. We’re telling our officials to hydrate starting tonight. It (is) a long day.”
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The average official will referee 12-15 games a day in an average bracket. Most of the officials will need to be in good shape to keep up with the fast pace of HISI.
“In that bucket on the sidelines,” Jeff Weathers said, “is sunscreen, and we have the most amazing huge refrigerator with 20,000 pounds of ice. We have people running water out there and we’re going to give each referee their own water bottle. Their field supervisors are going to make sure the water jugs are full and they are staying hydrated.”
Weathers has been around HISI so long that the hot weather is nothing new to him. In fact, the hotter the weather, the better the games. He also cautions his officials to be aware of signs of heat exhaustion, such as lack of perspiration. They will rely on the seven amazing field supervisors to make sure the officials are OK.
“Heat does do something to people,” Weathers said, “it makes people irritable. As long as everybody remembers we’re out here to enjoy this and have a good family time, then everything should be smooth.”
The fields only need to be watered with the heat. The Parks and Recreation Department has done a good job of maintaining the fields and making them playable. The fields look almost like golf courses. It wasn’t always the case at Cielo Grande Recreation Area. The fields had mustard weeds growing in them with a mixture of Bermuda grass and perennial ryegrass from being overseeded, as well as awful clumps and bare areas.
Roswell Parks & Recreation Department parks and grounds manager Jim Burress turned to David Blewett, golf superintendent at the Nancy Lopez Golf Course at Spring River, for help in creating an attractive look and state-of-the-art playing fields for the teams and Hike It and Spike It.
To get the fields to withstand the heat and the competition from not only HISI, but for the local youth and high school teams that play soccer on it, Blewett suggested the Parks and Recreation Department treat it like a golf course. Blewett proposed to spray the field with Roundup to kill the weeds, followed by reseeding the grass with modern Bermuda grass.
After the 2015 Hike it and Spike it, the Parks Department sprayed the field, prepped and seeded, then top-dusted the fields with sand to keep the seeds wet. After that, they continued to fertilize the grass and fill it in. To keep the grass looking the way it does now, the grass is mowed with a fairway mower that is used on the municipal golf course. The grass is controlled by pre-emergent herbicides.
“You can just look at the fields and see they look nice,” Jerry Lott said. “They look almost (like) golf greens. As far as care goes, the city of Roswell has been taking good care of these fields. The fields are cut short so they will stand up over the weekend.”
Youth ChallenGe is not immune to the heat. The people in charge of this detail this weekend plan on making sure those working HISI have plenty of rest, stay hydrated and alternate between water and Gatorade to keep the electrolytes flowing. One of the concerns for Youth ChallenGe is that young men and women are young and strong and might not know the symptoms of heat exhaustion or stroke, and try to push past it.
To combat this, they plan on rotating shifts and making sure they have enough rest fluids.
It doesn’t have to be hot for those competing to lose their temper, but it is exceeded when the temperature is hot. For the most part, there has only been one incident last year when two players were disqualified and could not participate in the championship game.
There hasn’t been a need for police to get involved, but if necessary they are patrolling the fields and onsite.
“We have zero tolerance,” Roswell police sergeant Jeff Prince said. “We try to have zero issues. Tempers can flare with the heat and temperatures. We try to keep the crowds in check and the people in check. We have very few problems out here.”
All the officials have radios so if there is a fight, one of the officials will alert the police. A lot of the times the fight will be separated by the players and families themselves. In 2016, there was only one citation for battery issued. It was a young kid who let his temper get the best of him,” according to Prince.
He also said “those that do fight and get angry are going to get ejected, which means that most families get ejected because they don’t want to stay if their loved one’s not going to be able to play. This result means their teammates might have to forfeit because they don’t have enough players.
“Sometimes we’ll have a fight,” Prince said. “Sometimes, we have to issue a citation (which is a petty misdemeanor) or they go to jail. Most of the time we issue them a citation. Many times before it gets to that stage they (players) will get ejected and asked not to return by the officials, or by us (police) not to return. If they do, they could be arrested.”
Prevention is the key to avoiding Heat Stroke according to Eastern New Mexico Medical Center
Ironically, the first sign of dangerous heat stroke or heat-related illness is often the absence of sweat. As the temperature rises, your body’s natural cooling mechanism — perspiration — evaporates and helps to cool your body. But on those really hot and humid days, evaporation is slowed and your body runs a higher risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
“Virtually all heat-related illnesses are preventable,” said Tom Wulf, emergency department medical director of ENMMC. “Be extra careful when the heat index is 90 degrees or above, and always drink plenty of water or fluids with electrolytes when the heat index is high. If you must be outdoors, take frequent breaks inside or in the shade. Heat stroke can affect people of any age or fitness level — don’t underestimate the danger.”
Heat exhaustion is a precursor to heat stroke. If you experience any of the following symptoms, get out of the heat immediately and to a cool place, and slowly drink water or other fluids with salt or sugar:
• Pale skin
• Fatigue or weakness
• Dizziness or nausea
• Profuse sweating
• Rapid pulse or fast, shallow breathing
• Muscle weakness or cramps
Do not drink caffeine or alcohol, and if you don’t feel better within 30 minutes, seek medical help. Heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke if not treated. These more dangerous warning signs can indicate heat stroke is imminent:
• Skin that feels hot and dry, but not sweaty
• Confusion or loss of consciousness
• Throbbing headache
• Frequent vomiting
• Trouble breathing
“Heat stroke is more serious than heat exhaustion, and it can be life-threatening,” said Wulf. “If you or someone you know experiences signs of heat stroke, remember not to attempt to bring down the temperature too quickly. Don’t use ice or ice water. Attempt to bring down the temperature gradually with cool spray or mild air conditioning, and dial 911 or proceed immediately to the nearest ER.”
Certain groups of people are more vulnerable to heat-related illness. Babies and young children, the elderly or infirmed, and people on certain medications are all at increased risk. So, be on alert and inform neighbors this summer. Check on elderly neighbors regularly, and take action immediately if you see children or pets left in vehicles.
For more information about heat stroke visit ENMMC.com or roswellgridiron.com.