CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- As a heat wave descends upon Central Virginia, 5,000 lacrosse players from across the country are in Chesterfield for a national tournament called the "biggest pick up game" in the country by organizers. Tournament leaders are taking steps to keep the players, grades 7-11, and families safe with temperatures approaching 100 degrees and heat indexes inching even higher.
"We're all here from all over the country. Some kids are probably used to it, others are not. But we're all getting acclimated quickly!" said Dianna Eberl, Director of the Brine National Lacrosse Classic at the River City Sportsplex through Friday.
Lacrosse games normally consist of two halves, but for the first time, Eberl is splitting games into quarters to make more time for water breaks.
"This is the first year we've incorporated the mandatory water breaks, so instead of doing halves, we're doing quarters," Eberl said.
Water, ice, and cold towels are being provided for players throughout the day. Families are preparing too. Dorothy Amee and Cary Loh, both from New Jersey, said they always pack coolers down with waters and easily-digestible snacks. Both women said they make sure they talk to their sons about preparing for games the night before competition.
"We're like, 'What did you do? How did you prepare?' 'What's in your cooler!" they said.
Both families played in the tournament last year, too. The fields at River City Sportsplex are made of grassy-turf, which can make it feel ten degrees hotter then the real temperature, players and coaches said. Last year, Amee's son Kelan saw firsthand how hot the turf can get.
"He got off the field, and the bottom of the cleat was melting from the turf. You could see the glue melting, so we kind of bungied it together and stuck it in the cooler," Amee said.
Rising ninth grader Ahnika Eberl has already played six games this week. Eberl said last year she experienced heat related problems, so hydration alongside competition should be the goal for her fellow lacrosse players when temperatures get this hot, she said.
"They were able to sit me up and dump water on my head, so I was fine after that," Eberl said about last year's tournament. "Never skip a water break. Take as much time as you need to like stay on the sidelines and get as much water as you need in your body."
Tournament leaders said they have had two heat related incidents so far. One involved a player and another involved a coach, but both people are OK.