Rising temperatures and unsafe air quality due to the sweltering heat that has engulfed the Midcoast in recent days has made some local schools take action by canceling practices and athletic events for Wednesday, Sept. 1 and, in some cases, for the coming days.

While it is sunny and bright outside, and rain and wet fields usually are the cause of most late-summer and fall postponements, it is the high heat index and difficult air quality that is stopping athletes in their tracks.

Rockland, Medomak Valley, Georges Valley, Mount View, Belfast and Camden Hills high schools canceled all regular-season games/matches, preseason exhibition events and practices Wednesday with the rest of the week still in question with the weather expected to be particularly hot Thursday, Sept. 2 as well before the regular season for many sports begins Friday, Sept. 3.

One of two scheduled events for Sept. 1 has been canceled due to the weather. For Sept. 1, the Belfast field hockey team was to play at Hampden Academy in a preseason game, but that event has been canceled. At this point, Deer Isle-Stonington is still scheduled to play golf at Searsport at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 1.

In fact, Jim Leonard, athletic director for Rockland District High School and Rockland District Middle School, said that “due to poor air quality today and tomorrow, all outdoor practices and games in RSU 13 are canceled.”

That includes a regular-season golf match between Medomak Valley and Rockland, which was scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 2 at 3:30 p.m. on the Rockland Golf Course.

There also were subvarsity football and subvarsity field hockey games involving Rockland and  Mt. Ararat scheduled for Sept. 1 that will be postponed.

RSU 13 has already taken precautions for Thursday’s sweltering heat, canceling school tomorrow along with all preseason games, regular season games and practices.

Leonard said high school teams may use the gym for practices but must not practice or play outdoors the next few days.

On Wednesday, Searsport canceled boys and girls soccer practices, while their home golf match against Deer Isle-Stonington was played at Searsport Pines Golf Course.

Many middle school practices were also canceled Wednesday due to the heat.

There have been minor heat exhaustion reports for student-athletes at local school practices and events in recent days where the temperatures have been nearly unbearable.

Camden Hills athletic trainer Chris Audet said that people young and old should be weary of the weather in the coming days when it comes to physical activity, not only for the heat and humidity, but the air quality as well.

“Obviously, we’re trying to avoid heat illness, heat stroke and things of that nature where internal core temperatures rise to the point where the body can’t sufficiently cool them down,” said Audet. “And when that starts happening, these athletes can get sick and it can take them a few days to recover.”

Windjammer practices Aug. 31 were limited to one hour in duration, with mandatory water breaks every 20 minutes to help keep student-athletes hydrated.

Medomak Valley trainer Paul Surette echoed Audet’s comments, and praised local administrators for calling off all after-school activities.

“It’s definitely a smart move,” he said. “Kids will be unhappy because they’re missing practices and it’s going to screw up some plans, but in the overall grand scheme of things, it’s a very smart, proactive step for preventing any illness or injury.”

Surette added that student-athletes are also much more likely to cramp up on the practice field by working that much harder to compete with the heat.

“When they lose all the sweats and salts and everything, yeah, they’re going to cramp,” he said. “[Kids’] diets are not the best. They’re probably eating pizza for lunch so you incorporate that and their stomachs are going to have to work harder. And instead of pumping to the muscles, it’s pumping to the stomach to break down all the [junk] food. Then you go tell a kid to go run around for an hour or two, their bodies just aren’t going to respond to that.”

Surette went on to say that there seems to be more asthmatic children in the state than where he went to college in Massachusetts, which also would not bode well with the sweltering temperatures and poor air quality.

“When you have that and you encourage them to run and they’ve got that poor quality of air in their lungs, it’s a recipe for disaster,” he said.

Thursday, Sept. 2 looks to be a question mark as well for athletic events and practices throughout the Midcoast, with conditions expected to be similarly hot.

VillageSoup sports staff can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at sports@villagesoup.com.