Behind The Scenes With The Mississippi Surge

38293Our beloved Mississippi Surge hockey team is hard at work preparing for their fifth season which will begin on Friday, October 25th right here at home against the Louisiana IceGators. Head Coach, Jeff Bes, works around the clock to train his team and keep them in top physical condition for the incredibly demanding schedule that lies ahead. This sport requires Herculean strength, lightening quick reflexes, and speeds up to 20 MPH on the ice. The men of the Mississippi Surge are consummate athletes, fiercely dedicated to their sport and to one another. The season consists of 56 games, 28 games are at home and the rest are played out of town.
All athletes must be very cognizant of their nutritional needs and what goes into their bodies. Nourishment for the muscles and proper hydration are paramount in order to perform at optimum levels and beyond. Protein and carbohydrates, along with Omega 3’s and the correct balance of fats are necessary fuel to sustain them during long and strenuous competitions. The Surge players refer to their trainers, physical therapists and team physician to prescribe the best dietary plan which they follow to the letter. Bananas are a favorite snack which provide potassium for the muscles, and granola bars are always on hand.
During a game, a player can and often does, expend a whopping 2,000 calories. They also have been known to lose from 2 to 7 pounds of water weight, through the loss of salts and electrolytes. “All players drink a lot of water as well as Gatorade and Powerade to replenish what they lose in play. We also have discovered that Pedialyte, the #1 pediatric solution for dehydration and and loss of electrolytes, works extremely well and the men prefer it because it is not as sweet and sugary. It also gets into their systems very quickly,” Coach Bes said. The Surge rule of thumb for good hydration is, 8 ounces of water per pound of body weight. The men are closely monitored for weight loss and weight gain. “It is very important to watch this each week because the fluctuation of either one can spell real trouble. Without proper hydration, everything is out of balance and muscle cramping will develop,” Bes said.
Players train constantly and work extremely hard during the off season to repair and build up muscle tissue. In order to help sustain them through the season, heavy lifting during the summer is part of the training regimen. During the season, the players work to maintain their musculature by using lighter weights at higher repetitions. On a typical game day, the players meet for a skate at 10:00 a.m. to loosen up and do some drills. All the equipment is checked to make sure everything is ready for game time. Everyone has a big meal in the afternoon consisting of complex carbs, usually pasta or rice, vegetables and chicken. “The guys all love a treat that one day so we always have a cupcake, ice cream or cookies…something really great for dessert,” Bes said. Often a nap is recommended so the players are well rested and refreshed before they return to the arena at 5:00 p.m to suit up and continue preparations for the big match up that night.
Practices are held in order to work on skill sets for the team as a whole. The duration of a practice session is usually an hour to an hour and a half. Following team practice, the players often continue to work individually on the ice, to hone their skills or work out any issues they may be having. They often consult with Coach Bes and he formulates a special set of drills for that particular player. It is not uncommon for Surge team members to join in and work together in order to help a fellow teammate.”It may start with one player but it always ends up that five or six guys will make it a point to help out. They are a team in every sense of the word. It’s all about the success of the team and working as one unit on and off the ice. It’s like a chain and if you have one weak link…the chain breaks. The Surge is tight and strong,” Bes said.
Strength of character is the #1 quality that Coach Bes insists upon in each and every one of his players. His team consists of talented athletes who always conduct themselves with class and distinction when out and about in public view. “They must be great ambassadors for the Mississippi Surge, solid citizens who always bring pride to the organization,” he said. His players must have big hearts and enjoy interacting with the fans. They must also be leaders on the ice and in the community. Bes continued, “Chemistry and character are a must and a team that works for each other, cares for each other, and will help each other is a team that will win.” Bes credits the great Wayne Gretzky, for instilling this value system in him, a man he has admired throughout his career.
One of the most interesting elements to the game of hockey is that fighting is permitted. It is never promoted, but it is allowed. Players get whipped up into a frenzy on the ice and aggression ensues. Coach Bes points out that these incidences are short lived. The player goes into the penalty box for engaging in a fight, has a moment to calm down, goes back out onto the ice, and it’s over as quickly as it began. “The player works through his aggression by making his statement and doing what needs to be done and 95% of the time that is the end of it. Team members must back each other up, believe in one another and be a strong force against the opposing team. Sometimes fighting is necessary, for example, to protect a teammate,” Bes said. Fighting is a time honored tradition in hockey since day one and many fans thoroughly enjoy it when the sparks fly.
Frequent injuries are also part of the hockey equation. The game is one of the fastest sports on earth with players skating at speeds up to 20 MPH, and then throw in the physicality of football…it is not for the faint of heart. Injuries to the muscles in the hips and groin are very common which is why conditioning, training, good nutrition and proper hydration are key to help protect a player’s body through a grueling match. Muscles will easily tear, pull, or strain without adequate hydration. Knees also take a beating because the legs are in constant motion, carrying the player at great speeds. As in football, new rules are in affect regarding head hits and the possibility of concussion. “Our players have the very best equipment and helmets to protect them on the ice. If a player does receive a head injury, he is given every opportunity to get well and will not be permitted to play and get back on the ice until he is 100% healthy,” Bes said. Hockey is a very dangerous sport but every precaution is taken in order to protect the players.
Off the ice, the Surge engage in various fitness activities and workouts to keep them in top physical condition. Spinning is utilized throughout each season at Cycology Fitness in Biloxi. The team refers to it as “a necessary evil.” It works every muscle in the legs at breakneck speeds, and trainers are known to have no mercy. Spinning strengthens the legs, condition the muscles and builds endurance. Circuit training with weights at high repetitions is another part of the Surge fitness routine, as is the use of body resistant and weight resistant tension bands. Running sprints on the beach is a favorite workout for the players and quite often the guys wind up having a volley ball game afterwards just for fun. “It can get pretty monotonous to do the same thing over and over for 56 weeks straight. We try to keep things interesting and change it up as often as possible. Everyone gets re-energized and really enjoys doing different things now and again,” Bes said.

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