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Heat advisory causing concern for area teams

By Jesse Brooks crime@hammondstar.com

Temperatures for the early part of the week have felt like 108 degrees or higher with the heat index, causing concern for youth football players in the area.

Meteorologist Phil Grigsby of the National Weather Service in New Orleans said on Monday that the area has been under a heat advisory and their number one concern has been for football players. Even extreme temperatures are expected to peak at some point today, temperatures will still remain as high as 92 degrees or more for most of summer's remaining days, Grisby said.

North Oaks Sports Medicine Head Athletic Trainer and Supervisor Matthew Rabalais said that athletes in extreme conditions can be in danger of suffering heat-related illnesses that could result in losing consciousness on the field if not treated properly.

"These things can be caused by an athlete not eating properly throughout the day or not drinking enough fluids," Rabalais said. "It can even the result of an athlete not being in as good as shape as they think they are."

Rabalais said that athletes need to drink plenty of water, but that water is not enough to hydrate the body alone. To stay appropriately hydrated, it is important to receive balanced meals daily or drink sports drinks with electrolytes and carbohydrates, he said.

"When you only drink water you're not getting the carbohydrates, proteins and fat needed to burn of the amount of energy that is being spent," Rabalais said. "Those things are not being replenished and they are needed for athletes that are sweating large amounts every day."

Football coaches around the area are aware of the potential dangers of the heat and playing in pads and a helmet through the end of the summer and beginning of the season. On Monday, Aug. 12, Kentwood's football team had a five-to 10-minute-long break to rest in the shade, drink water and wipe their faces and back of necks with towels soaked in ice water to help cool down before retaking the field.

At Amite, head coach Zephaniah Powell reminded his players of what he refers to as "The Amani Gilmore Rule," which was that he wanted to players to prepare a sandwich -- like peanut butter and jelly -- the night before school. Then bring it with them so they could eat it in between the end of school and the start of football practice to make sure they were adequately hydrated and had enough energy to play. The rule was named after last year's starting quarterback, Amani Gilmore, who Powell said is the only player he's ever seen consistently make and eat a sandwich or snack before practice. Gilmore is now on the University of Kentucky's football team.

The South Tangi Youth Soccer confirmed in a statement sent out to parents that Tuesday's practices were canceled due to extreme heat. The organization also said that were targeting to resume on Friday and that all athletes needed to stay safe and hydrated.