NEW BRITAIN - The Nutmeg State Games had prepared for the vicious heat wave that was expected to hit Connecticut this weekend, but despite the numerous precautions, it was decided that the best course of action was to restructure the tournaments that made up the event’s second weekend of action.
The field hockey tournament, which was originally designed to complete one tournament for each age group per day through the weekend, was changed to halt games after 11 a.m. on Saturday and resume later in the evening, while the conclusion of the tournaments were pushed back to Monday evening at Veterans Stadium.
“It’s just too hot,” Nutmeg State Games executive director Pat Fischer said. “We don’t want to put any officials, players, or anyone else involved with the games at risk.”
Those competing on Saturday morning seemed to be grateful for the scheduling tweak. Already soaked in sweat by the first round of girls soccer games at Willowbrook Park, the competitors weren’t upset to spend the rest of the afternoon indoors, when the heat index was expected to eclipse 100 degrees.
“It was really hot,” said Arielle Galarza of the Newington Coyotes girls soccer team. “I was sweating so much. It’s probably 100 degrees by now. We were supposed to have a game at 1 p.m., and that would have been really bad.”
To accommodate the morning events, tents were scattered around the sidelines of both the soccer and field hockey tournaments. Many were armed with misting fans that players crowded around during the increased number of water breaks allotted to the players for their safety.
“They did a nice job,” Coyotes head coach Judi Gallinoto said. “The tournament has done a great job. They split the match into quarters, which they didn’t usually do, and we tried to sub every few minutes to make sure everyone was OK.”
The Coyotes had extra reason to sweat, given that Saturday was the first time that the team competed on a regulation sized field. Playing up an age group, the Coyotes, normally a 12U team, battled to a 3-3 tie on Saturday morning against the Midstate Rage of Middletown in the 14 & Under tournament thanks to a pair of goals in the final five minutes, showing that endurance wasn’t a problem, even with the weather and increased field size.
“These girls never give up,” Gallinoto said.
The Coyotes will continue their tournament at 9 a.m. on Sunday, but the tournament itself will conclude on Monday. The schedule alteration was a necessary one given the forecast, but Fischer understands that the change could result in a smaller field of teams.
“Everyone agrees with the decision we made,” Fischer said. “But some teams are not going to be able to make it to their rescheduled games. We just have to make the decisions based on what’s best for the athletes, and if some teams can’t play, they can’t play.”
Those that did play on Saturday remained grateful for the opportunity, even with the sun pounding down upon them.
“I like that this gives kids who aren’t in a premier division to play soccer in the summer,” Gallinoto said. “It would have been nice if the weather wasn’t as hot, but we’ll take it.”
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org