As COVID-19 restrictions end, youth sports battle the heat

With virtually all COVID-19 restrictions lifting on Thursday, youth sports teams in Calgary are facing a new hazard: the sun

Temperatures have soared in recent days and many teams are out practicing and playing games. Many of their seasons will begin once restrictions are fully lifted.

“Definitely an added ripple this week,” said Joshua Staav, manager of the Calgary Tennis Club.

Staav said with the tennis club holding day camps for youth this week, the plan is to do a little less.

“Just making sure," he said. "(They're) taking lots of breaks. (The plan is to) not work (them) too hard, give (them) lots of water, even hosing the kids down, especially in the afternoon and staying in the shade as much as possible.”

Josh Witty signed his daughter up for lessons.

“We enrolled them a few months back and it stayed open,” he said.

“Obviously, we want to get them outside. It’s a little bit hot right now, but just keep them cool, keep them in the shade.”

Edmonton physician Dr. Darren Markland said the body can cool itself down naturally, when it becomes too hot.

“We have abilities to tolerate higher environmental temperatures that we’ve adapted a lot of that through sweating,” said Markland.

Temperatures have peaked in the mid to high 30s, and even 40s in some parts of Alberta.

The Calgary Minor Soccer Association said it's laid out a roadmap to handle the heat.

“We’ve shortened up matches, we have modified the match duration to include more cooling breaks,” said technical director Jordan Stewart.

“(We have added) more water breaks and to really make sure that everyone who is at the game is as safe as possible.”

CMSA says games that are played in 30-34 degree heat will have drink breaks every 30 minutes, with coaches and officials keeping an eye on athletes.

When temperatures range from 35 degrees to 39 degrees, teams are asked to speak with everyone involved, including match officials to either shorten the games or possibly even reschedule.

But one group looking forward to the heat are the baseball players.

“Baseball weather is warm weather,” said Allan Chatenay with Rocky Mountain Little League.

“We’ve got 30 degree plus weather this week. This is perfect weather for baseball. Of course it is important to make sure kidsto stay hydrated, wear sunscreen and all that good stuff but every kid typically wears a baseball hat," Chatenay said.

The steamy weather brings the game back to its roots, he added.

“If you think about the origins of baseball this is exactly the kind of temperature it is played in,” he said.

Rocky Mountain Little League is holding a four day Canada Day event, with clinics, skills camps and practices at Stanley Park, beginning Thursday.