Parasiliti: AC-less gyms have some county volleyball teams losing cool – Herald-Mail Media

The heat of competition has taken on two meanings. 
The heat of “competition” is supposed to bring the best out in athletes. It’s the body performing well under pressure with the help of motivation, confidence, focus and emotions. 
That’s the test of athletics. 
But over the last few days, it’s been about the “heat” of competition. 
With 10 days before summer burns out with the reentry of fall, the action has been “hot” — in a different way — in a number of Washington County high school gyms. 
Most of the fall sports — football and soccer, cross country and golf — take advantage of playing while the playing’s good outdoors. It’s literally their time in the sun. 
Those athletes have sweated it out through August practices and heat acclimation periods just to be ready to play in this weather in the early part of the season. 
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They will be wishing for this heat come late October. 
Meanwhile, in volleyball, the “heat” is really on. 
The “bump, set, spike” crowd is ready to be basted after playing in a huge room with wooden floors and no windows. 
These events, in the fleeting Dog Days of Summer, have a way of making people whimper and pant a little. 
That’s because 57% of the county’s public high school gyms don’t have any form of air conditioning. 
Now they know how that salisbury steak TV dinner — or a Hot Pocket — in the microwave feels. 
The power of cool air hasn’t been talked about often. It was more of a wish list item. 
But it became a “hot” topic after a particularly sweltering match at Clear Spring last week. 
That came on the heels of Washington County’s announcement that it has a $35 million surplus of funds. That’s money to “burn” a hole in some pockets. 
Hands are raising, volunteering ideas for this barbeque. A quiet one is to start a Thirsty Journalist Fund. I don’t think that will happen. 
Another, though, was to get air conditioning in all the schools in the county. Make it so it’s only as hot as Helena, Montana, when volleyball teams are playing for net results. 
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According to Washington County Public Schools, 10 county schools — one elementary, five middle and four high schools — are without a thermostat on the gym wall. 
Boonsboro, Clear Spring, North Hagerstown and Williamsport are the “hot” button high schools in the area. 
WCPS reported that plans are in the works to add AC to the gyms in all 10 schools when the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are replaced. 
But if you think about it, this temperature difference adds an interesting twist to the idea of home-court advantage. 
Does this make the Warriors, Blazers, Hubs and Wildcats tropical teams while Hancock, South Hagerstown and Smithsburg are from the frozen tundra? 
After all, come December in the NFL, the discussion will be about the disadvantage teams from the north have when they play at Miami, while southern teams scramble to find long underwear when they are heading to Green Bay or New England. 
This is when linemen become warm fronts and cold fronts. 
I wonder if that works in volleyball? 
This AC debate didn’t exist in the Dark Ages, back when I was in school. But I must admit, my high school had its priorities straight. 
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My town opened a new gym complex in 1973, my sophomore year. It had air conditioning, unlike the rest of the school. 
The classroom cooling system was simple. Open the windows and the classroom door to create cross ventilation. 
Sitting on the door side of the room was much cooler with this bit of caveman ingenuity. 
These days, that method probably wouldn’t be accepted, mainly for safety reasons. 
Back then, AC was the first half of a rock band’s name. 
We really sweated to get good grades. 
I know, that’s back in the days when we walked uphill both ways, to and from school. 
These days, the lack of AC is considered inhuman. In a way, this technology has made us a little softer. 
Or soft boiled, in this case. 
The only way the modern American can stand the heat is with their toes in the sand with an umbrella drink in hand at the beach. 
Such sacrifices. 
Needless to say, the lack of gym air conditioning isn’t earth shaking. It’s more of an inconvenience. 
Kids will still get by with added hydration and more towels. If anything, it’s a case of leveling the playing field for each school in the county. 
In reality, the heat of competition is a matter of preparation and all its motivation, confidence, focus and emotions. That’s all the hard work. 
Games are supposed to be a breeze.


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