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Friday, Aug. 21, 2015: Riverhead junior 'critical' after suffering heat stroke

   Leading off today: A Riverhead varsity football lineman is hospitalized in critical condition after suffering heat stroke during the first fall practice.

   Junior Nikolas Visco, 16, is being treated at Stony Brook Children's Hospital after becoming ill Monday following the first practice of the preseason, the Riverhead News-Review reported Thursday. Newsday reported Visco, who played for the junior varsity last fall, suffered kidney and liver failure.

   "This is a truly tragic incident," Riverhead Superintendent Nancy Carney said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family."

   Visco's family issued a statement through the hospital Thursday:

"We would like to thank our family and friends, and others in the community along with our son, Nikolas Visco's friends and fellow teammates, for their concerns about Nikolas while he is being cared for at Stony Brook Children's Hospital. He remains in critical condition and is being taken care of by a very experienced team of doctors and nurses. We are very grateful and thankful for the care he is receiving. Out of concern for Nikolas' well-being, we ask that you respect his privacy and our family's privacy as we all focus our energy on helping Nikolas recover."
   Riverhead coach Leif Shay told the News-Review the latest he heard Thursday was there had been a "slight improvement" in Visco's condition but the teen remained sedated.

   The paper reported Visco collapsed as players were leaving the field at about 10 a.m. after Monday's practice. He was attended to by the school's trainer and an ambulance arrived quickly, Shay said.

   Visco had a 108-degree fever at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead and had lost consciousness. He was transferred to Stony Brook after his temperature had been brought down to 103.

   Newsday reported the temperature was 86 Monday morning and the heat index was 92. A heat alert is mandatory when the index reaches 95. The team was practicing under a self-imposed modified heat alert. NYSPHSAA rules for practices and games (Link: Full rules) when the heat index is between 91 and 95 degrees call for frequent water breaks, shorter work sessions and other recommendations. Section 11 takes the rules a step further by making the period from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. off limits for preseason practices.

   Carney said the team was practicing "as if it was a modified heat alert," with players practicing in T-shirts and shorts. Players were not yet in pads because it was the first day of practice.

   Interesting reading, part 1: ESPN profiled Christ the King basketball player Sydney Zambrotta, one of the 100 top girls players in the incoming senior class.

   Zambrotta, who lives one block from North Babylon High, commutes two hours each morning to Christ the King. But it's another trip detailed in the story that caught my eye.

   Zambrotta's mother recalled something that happened on their trip to Minnesota to check out the Big Ten school.

   "Sydney has a heart of gold," her mother said. "When we were in Minnesota, the team had given her some candy. But she left it for the cleaning lady [in the hotel], along with a sweet note. She wrote, 'Thanks for keeping my room clean.' I thought that was so her."

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   Interesting reading, part 2: Christ the King was one of the first girls basketball teams in the country to land a Nike sponsorship deal. Right now, the battle for football branding at the scholastic level is really heating up as Under Armour continues its push to challenge the 800-pound gorilla of sports apparel. The Baltimore Sun did a fascinating look at the local landscape recently.

   Among the tidbits worth noting:

  • Under Armour topped $3 billion in revenue for the first time last year -- a little more than one-tenth of Nike's haul -- to move past Adidas for the No. 2 spot nationally. Last week, Nike announced a new showcase basketball event in the Bahamas that coincides with the established Under Armour Elite 24 All-American Game in New York City this month.
  • Under Armour, seeking to lock down its home turf, partnered with more than two dozen Maryland schools in 2015. Under Armour wouldn't disclose how many high schools it outfits nationally.
  • In many contracts, high schools receive deep discounts -- perhaps 40 percent -- on Under Armour merchandise. Depending on the type of sponsorship, the school also may receive some free gear.
   Extra points: Longtime Section 5 Executive Director Ed Stores confirmed this week that the upcoming school year will be his last in that position. The section's Athletic Council will start moving forward on a succession plan after Stores makes his decision official at next month's meeting.

   I haven't had a chance to talk specifics with Stores or any of the other Section 5 administrators, but the NYSPHSAA's largest section almost certainly has to make a full-time hire rather than keeping the job part time. An executive director from another section told me recently there are weeks when he could easily log 70 hours in order to keep things running.

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