Warning! Keep players hydrated

Published 5:00 am Thursday, June 25, 2009

All-star baseball action is at an intense level this week as theDixie Youth subdistrict and district tournaments get under way.Parents and coaches should take heed. Make sure your players stayhydrated.

With the thermometer pushing and surpassing 100 degrees, and thehumidity level close behind, keeping the body cool is a priority.Lots of ice water and electrolytes should be available. Coaches andfans are not exempt from suffering heat exhaustion.

Players are fired up, so that means their adrenalin is flowingat a higher than usual level. Some players develop cramps when theyare involved in a high intensity, emotional situation.

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Lee Dunaway, athletic trainer and physical therapy assistant atKings Daughters Medical Center, provided some expert advice foranyone planning outdoor activity. Precautionary measures canprevent a lot of grief and avoid tragedy.

“The main thing is prehydration,” said Dunaway. “If someoneknows they are going to be out in the heat, they need to drinkplenty of fluids the night before.”

According to Dunaway, prevention is the best measure forcombating heat stroke. Some coaches encourage their players todrink water the night before a game until they’re about to pop.

“When a person is hydration loading, you drink water,” saidDunaway. “When you are participating in the activity, you need todrink electrolytes to maintain safe levels of potassium andsodium.”

Drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are effective. Distancerunners often delete the drinks with water to reduce the extrasugar.

Dunaway said it’s important for athletic participants to startdrinking fluids before they overheat. “The main thing is to startdrinking before they are thirsty. If a kid waits until he isthirsty, the symptoms of dehydration are already beginning.”

In the heat of battle (game), coaches have a tendency to focusexpressly on the game. They can overlook what’s going on in thedugout. Perhaps an assistant coach can be responsible for thebehavior of the players.

An experienced trainer, Dunaway is keenly aware of what theearly, telltale signs of dehydration.

“Kids get that flushed look and they stop sweating,” saidDunaway. “That can affect the heart. As long as they are sweating,they are OK. But if their skin gets clammy, that’s a dangersignal.”

Dunaway said awareness is a key to avoiding heat exhaustion.”There needs to be good communication between the coaches and thekids. They need to be aware of what kind of condition their playersare in.”

For sure, the Mississippi heat wave has been severe on peopleand animals. Combine high temperatures with high humidity and theexhaustion level increases.

Dunaway works with football, soccer, basketball baseball, trackand softball teams much of the year. He’s working outdoors everyday, taking care of injuries and ailments that athletes develop. Ingreat physical condition himself, the weather pattern of recentweeks has even bothered Dunaway.

“It’s hard to breathe. It’s so humid.”

In a heat emergency, Dunaway offered this advice. “Generally,when a kid reaches the heat exhaustion level, I will pack them downin ice to reduce their body core temperature. You can put ice onthe back of their necks.

“Start them sipping fluids instead of gulping them down,” toavoid nausea.

Summer league ball, loaded with volunteer, part-time coaches,often overlooks the individual athlete’s physical condition. Youdon’t have to be overweight to feel the effects of heat exhaustion.Even skinny players can suffer from a lack of fluids.

Most all-star coaches are regular parents. They haven’t beeneducated on the dangers of heat exhaustion. Coaches need to obtaininformation in advance about injuries and how to cope with theheat.

Dunaway said he welcomes inquiries from coaches and parents. Youcan contact hims at 601-835 -0842 and 601-757-4963.

Mississippi State University alumni and friends are anxiouslyanticipating next Tuesday night’s meeting at Southwest MississippiCommunity College in Summit. A trio of Bulldog leaders: newpresident Dr. Mark Keenum, head baseball coach John Cohen andathletic director Greg Byrne, will be the featured speakers.

The dinner meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the Holmes Building,located next to the Southwest gymnasium that is named in honor ofthe late Southwest president, Dr. Horace C. Holmes. Ticketspurchased in advance cost $15 and the cost at the door is $20.

MSU alum Gary Blair is promoting the event. Contact Blair at601-757-3345 to order tickets.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O. BOX551, Brookhaven,, MS 39602 or e-mail sports@dailyleader.com