The Story of Kool Kapz

The Birth of Kool Kapz

Hi. I'm Chuck.

As a tenured baseball umpire, I’ve grown accustomed to working games in all types of weather. Due to the length of the baseball season, games get played in all types of weather conditions. During snow flurries and/or freezing temperatures in early spring, rain showers in late spring and early summer, and extreme heat in mid-to-late summer.  

I’ve umpired games where I was so cold I couldn’t get off the field and into a warm car fast enough. I’ve umpired games where it was raining, but not quite enough to cancel/postpone the game. And I’ve umpired many, many games in almost unbearable heat. The type of heat where there was nothing I could do but try to stay cool enough to finish. I'd drink lots of liquids, maybe wipe down between innings with a towel from my cooler, and hope for a breeze. 

It was not until June 2022, however, that I experienced something I’d never really encountered. 

Arizona in the Summer

The Day

I was umpiring a summer league game in Arizona on a Saturday afternoon. My partner and I chose to wear powder blue shirts to stave off whatever heat we could (instead of the traditional black), and the umpire-standard black hat. The outside temperature was 114 degrees Fahrenheit, a typical desert summer afternoon. Due to the artificial surface, however, the on-field temperature was much hotter. Having been designated to work home plate in the first game, I put on my gear. The clear afternoon meant plenty of radiant heat from the sun beating down.

Anticipating the hot weather for this day, I packed a cooler of bottled water (with electrolyte powder additives), sports drinks, some snacks, a washcloth, and lots of ice.  

Sometime around the third inning, I noticed I was not feeling well. Before the game and after every half inning during this game, I was consuming plenty of fluids, chewing on ice, and using a cool washcloth on the back of my neck and arms—but nothing seemed to help cool me to the point where I felt better. I knew I was hydrating enough, but there was something else happening that seemed to be out of my control.

I went back to do another half-inning, but my condition was getting worse. I began feeling anxious and panicky, realizing I was on the verge of some type of heat-related illness. I also realized that I was losing some of my cognitive capabilities, but ego was preventing me from quitting right then and there. 

After the next half inning, I again retreated to my cooler and drank more liquids. I used the iced washcloth on my neck, face, and arms. Still no relief. I was in trouble. At least I was still sweating, a good sign. But I was feeling worse with each passing minute.   

Before going to my partner and the head coaches to say I might need medical attention, I did something I’d never done before. A last-ditch effort. Turning my hat upside down, I took two handfuls of ice and put them in my hat. I then carefully put the hat on my head, trying not to spill any ice in the process. I returned to home plate, donned my mask, and started the inning.   

I could feel the sharpness of the cubes as my mask squeezed my ice-filled hat onto my head, making it a little uncomfortable. It was only a few minutes later I realized something much more important.  

something was happening

I Was Feeling Better

The ice was melting, but my head felt cooler, which in turn seemed to be making ME feel better. I was no longer fearful of falling over from the heat. I finished that inning, went back to the cooler, and, again, added ice to my hat. By this time, I had regained my cognitive capacities, I felt less fatigued, and my worries about any heat-related illnesses were going away! 

I continued to repeat the process every half inning, as well as maintaining a steady flow of liquids. It’s because of “icing” my head that I was able to complete the game behind the plate. My newly discovered tactic of icing my head (and drinking fluids) allowed me to work the second game of a doubleheader!

Putting ice in my hat had provided immediate cooling to my head. In turn, it not only prevented my condition from worsening but helped relieve the effects of the heat that day.

What Happened?

The Discovery

Returning home, I committed to determining what transpired that day (being hydrated but still suffering heat-related illness). I also set out to find a medical explanation as to why providing direct cooling to my head not only stopped the problem but seemed to remedy my heat-related effects from the blazing hot afternoon.

I began to dig, and through my research, I discovered that it’s critical to cool our extremities (feet, hands, head) in times of extreme heat. I found medical journal articles, case studies, and other pertinent information all explaining the effects of extreme heat - not only on the body - but the brain as well.  

Studies have proven that extreme heat can take a significant toll on the brain’s neurology. Tasks requiring attention, memory, and reasoning can be negatively affected when the brain is overheated. This slowing of cognitive capabilities can also lead to increased irritability, depression, and anxiety due to increased stress hormone production, which further taxes blood vessels in both the body and brain.  

I also discovered the negative impact of heat-related illnesses and the increased chance of work-related injuries to those exposed to extreme heat. Insurance claims skyrocket, ambulance and hospital visits increase significantly due to the heat, and worker’s compensation claims contribute to over one billion dollars lost in worker productivity. And that is just in the summer months.

For me, the connection was clear. Cooling my head, as well as continuing to hydrate, was essential to battling my heat-related issues that day.    

I am not a physician. I make no claims or guarantees what I did that day and what worked for me will have the same impact on everyone else. I am, however, a successful testimony to fixing my heat-related issues by directly cooling my head. If it worked for me in extreme heat, and I think that cooling your head in extreme heat might work for others as well.

The Science 

My self-studies led to a specific area of the brain that is critical to overall health in humans. Its function is so significant to the human endocrine system that even the slightest irregularity can affect a person’s overall health dynamics. 

I’m speaking of the HYPOTHALAMUS.

This small but mighty area of the brain is responsible for producing key hormones for many glands (including the pituitary gland), as well as hormones that control heart rate, hunger, mood, sex drive, sleep, thirst, and body temperature. It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of the hypothalamus in regulating body temperature and signaling capabilities to the rest of the body and brain. Based on the location inside the brain (see images below), it is apparent why cooling the head plays a superior role when it comes to dealing with extreme heat.

The Question

So why aren’t there more practical options to effectively cool the head? 

It is from this question that Kool Kapz was born. I am incredibly proud of our product and I hope it provides you with the relief you need. Want to know more? Get in touch!