NEW BRITAIN - The 31st annual Nutmeg State Games are heating up as the second weekend of action hits its stride in New Britain, and so is the weather, which is expected to reach well into the high 90s and above this weekend.
Teams and competitors from throughout the state and beyond will be represented in the Hardware City this weekend, battling in field hockey, softball, soccer and judo tournaments, while also battling the severe heat currently in the local forecast.
While there is nothing that can be done to stop the incoming heat wave, the Games and executive director Patrick Fischer have been working to make sure the event is prepared for whatever heights the weekend temperatures may reach.
“We have some weather conditions this weekend that might be a little challenging with the heat,” Fischer said. “The things that we put in place, for field hockey most importantly or anything that's played on turf, the temperatures they're forecasting are 95 to 98 degrees. With our medical staff, we make mandatory water breaks every eight to 12 minutes depending on the duration of the game, or whenever there is a break in play.”
The turf at Veterans Stadium could heat up drastically with the extreme weather conditions, prompting Fischer and the city of New Britain to make sure relief from the hot climate is easily accessible for all participants.
“For field hockey specifically, the Parks and Rec department was able to install a cooling and misting station under the bleachers at Veterans Stadium for us, in case we have a heat related injury, or just a place for the players to cool off,” Fischer said. “We'll have hydration stations at Veterans Stadium, and the medical staff closely monitors players for any heat related injuries. Our main concern is the safety of the participants, and we take it very seriously.”
The participants of the field hockey tournament will be taking the event itself very seriously. In what Fischer considers to be the big draw of the weekend, the field hockey tournament is expected to bring in close to 40 teams spread across three states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
The tournament is set up into three divisions, with each division taking place throughout one day. The 15 & Under division took place on Friday, while the 18 & Under and Open Divisions begin on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
“It's a nice draw for us,” Fischer said. “They like the format. It's a seven-on-seven, and each age division is a separate day. So it's only a half-day commitment as opposed to four or five days. It's really grown over the past nine or 10 years. It's been really good.”
Another big draw for the Games will occur this weekend in the softball tournament, which will have games at Chesley Park in New Britain and Sage Park in Berlin. This weekend will see the 12 & Under and 14 & Under divisions begin on Saturday, with local teams from Bristol and Terryville competing in addition to squads from New York and Massachusetts.
“Softball sells out every year,” Fischer said. “It usually sells out pretty quick, usually before Christmas. We open up the registration in October and teams usually reserve their spot by the end of that year, so nine or 10 months out, which is crazy…I think we put on a nice event for everybody and they enjoy coming. We use two really nice facilities.”
The most widespread event of the weekend will take place at New Britain High School, where the judo tournament will begin at approximately 10 a.m., and feature competitors from five different states, including Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, and well as a handful of New Britain entries among the 70-80 total competitors expected to fight for a medal, with a large variety of age groups.
“You'll have senior ranks everywhere from 18 and 19 years old to people in their 50s and 60s still competing,” Fischer said. “It's a real wide range of age groups there.”
Saturday will conclude the roller hockey action that began last weekend, as the 10 & Under field will play at Trinity College in Hartford. CT Huskies of Plainville represent the local talent that will be competing, after a number of local teams medaled in the older divisions last Sunday.
This weekend will also see the conclusion of the girls soccer tournament, which began on Thursday and will run through Sunday afternoon, bringing an end to an action-packed weekend that will be hosted almost entirely in New Britain. The entire tournament field is made up of Connecticut teams, including squads from Southington and Newington.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or email@example.com