High temperatures and humidity forced early school dismissals and even some cancellations around the state for a second straight day Wednesday.
The conditions are having a heavy effect on area sports teams, either pushing them indoors or canceling activities all together.
Practice/scrimmage time is already precious with the fall season rapidly approaching. Coaches are adjusting to a window narrowed even further by the heat.
“The hard part is when we had our first practice last Thursday, the weather was great and the kids started getting into shape and getting strong, and now a three-day lapse where we can’t train or do anything fitness-wise,” Sheehan girls soccer coach Rob Huelsman said.
“We are going to be behind. We are supposed to get a 10-day swing before the first match and I think we will get seven or eight in. When you are playing this game and the demands of fitness are there, it’s going to take us time to get in shape to play our game effectively.”
Because of the heat, Sheehan’s practice was cancelled Tuesday and a scrimmage scheduled for Wednesday was called off for unsafe weather conditions. The Titans are hoping to get back to a normal schedule on Thursday.
“You don’t want to to put any player at risk with this heat,” Huelsman said. “You don’t know what is going to happen. What are you going to do?”
In Meriden, Maloney girls soccer coach Eoin McClure said his team moved indoors to the school’s air-conditioned gym.
“It hasn’t affected us,” McClure said. “We have a small gym and large gym, and we share gym time with the other fall sports.”
Maloney practiced indoors on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Spartans were supposed to host Coginchaug in a scrimmage Wednesday, but that event was postponed to Tuesday.
“We modify our workouts and practice,” McClure said. “It’s a rainy day protocol. We have indoor practice and get a good workout in.
“Everyone wants to be outside this time of year and get our legs stretched a little more, but we will adapt to the weather and everything will work out,” McClure added. “We are itching to get outside, but we are not going to put any kids in jeopardy.”
On the gridiron, Platt football coach Jason Bruenn had to change plans due to the heat. His Panthers were scheduled to scrimmage Newtown on Tuesday. That event was cancelled.
“The kids and coaches were all looking forward to it,” Bruenn said. “We are all competitive and want to play, but at the same time, your principals and ADs are your checks and balances. They are like your trainers for injuries and, if conditions aren’t safe, they will shut you down.
“As competitive as we are, we wanted to play, but you need someone to keep you in check because if something ever happened it would be catastrophic.”
Instead, the Panthers moved indoors to Platt’s air-conditioned gym for the first hour of practice, then moved outside with no pads. The team factored in extra water breaks.
“Our managers our great,” Bruenn said. “They have water bottles for the players drill to drill. This is not the old days where you were sucking from a towel and needing water [was considered] weak.”
In his 12 years as head coach, Bruenn said he doesn’t recall a scrimmage being cancelled due to heat. He termed the lost scrimmage with Newtown a missed opportunity, but said his team should be fine for a preseason scrimmage with Simsbury on Friday at Falcon Field.
“Our scrimmages are different from other sports,” Bruenn said. “We haven’t had a live punt or kick yet … and our scrimmages are controlled. If we scrimmaged [on Tuesday] our varsity would have went a quarter or a quarter and a half of running time. Then the JV guys would have played. That would have been it. But we got some good work in.”
These same athletes will be enduring much different conditions toward the end of the season.
“It’s sports. You are going to run into that,” Huelsman said. “You just have to respect that and be cautious. Later in the season they could be playing in 25 degrees. That’s one thing with soccer players: We play in all kinds of conditions. I always tell my girls we are like the postman.”