GONZALES — Malayia Miles, 4, beat the heat at Saturday’s Ascension Classic Jamboree by using a hand-held personal fan.
The Ascension Cougars cheerleader wasn’t the only football fan coming up with ways to cool off during the daylong jamboree.
Fans used tents, wet towels, plastic bags filled with ice and even generator-powered large fans to deal with the rising temperatures.
By 1 p.m. Saturday, the temperature was in the mid- to high-90s with a heat index above 100, Ascension Cougars Youth Football League President Leon Blouin III said.
Blouin, the organizer of this year’s classic, said he was prepared for the heat “with an ice man on standby.”
“It’s usually hot, but today it’s brutal,” Blouin said as he wiped the sweat from his face.
“Hydration is key today,” he said.
Parent volunteers were distributing water to the players, and the concession stand was busy with parents purchasing cooling beverages.
Taking the field for the games were players from the Eastside Raiders, Ascension Cougars, Galvez Tigers, Ascension Bulldogs, Denham Springs Yellow Jackets and Bayou Lafourche. The games were held on two practice fields next to East Ascension High School.
As the D teams for the Galvez Tigers and the Ascension Cougars faced off on one of two fields, Blouin checked to see how the supplies were holding up.
On the field, parents used video cameras, smartphones and cameras to capture their children’s performance.
After the scrimmage-style game ended, Galvez Tigers coach Josh Graham gathered his players around him for a short pep talk.
“That was fun, real fun, right?” Graham asked his team of 24 players, ages 4, 5 and 6.
“Did everyone get to play?” he asked. “If you didn’t, you’ll play next week. I promise.”
Graham said football at this age group is all about “fun and fundamentals.”
He praised the players for their comeback drive in the second half and told the parents they should take the players out for ice cream to celebrate.
“I’m just excited to have them on the field this year,” he said.
“We showed heart today when we got some yardage in the second-half drive,” he said.
On the other field, the Galvez Tigers C Team was tackling first-year team the Ascension Bulldogs.
Brock Gonzales, 13, cheered as his younger brother, Zach, 8, ran down the field for his second touchdown of the day.
“Go, Zach, go,” Brock yelled.
Brock, who plays football for Ascension Christian High School, played for the Galvez Tigers.
“He’s having a good day,” Brock said.
Brock was surrounded by friends and family cheering for the Galvez Tigers.
Blouin said the jamboree is a chance for teams that don’t usually play throughout the season to meet on the field. The teams compete in different leagues, he said.
The popularity of youth football has grown with the parish, Blouin said. Eleven years ago the parish fielded three teams and today, 11 teams compete in at least three different leagues.