Area prep football teams sweating it out in hot, humid conditions
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 2, 2006 2:07 PM
Three consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures and stifling heat indexes have area football coaches keeping a close watch on their players during practice this week.
The N.C. High School Athletic Association has reminded coaches to constantly monitor the players throughout practice, and suggested water breaks every 20-30 minutes. If temperatures become unbearable at any point, the association said that suspending practice might be necessary.
Coaches are taking different routes to keep players hydrated, but are staying well within the boundaries of making sure no one suffers from heat exhaustion.
"Let's say you're doing a drill and waiting your turn, if you want a swig (of water), get it," said Rosewood High coach Daniel Barrow. "On days like today with the humidity factor and heat index, you need to break them about every 10 minutes. I think that's important.
"When you get the heat and humidity combined like this, people say that players aren't climatized like they once were when they worked in tobacco fields or lived without air conditioning in their homes.
"But when it gets over 100 in the heat index, I don't think anyone ever gets climatized to that even if you'ved worked in the field seven days a week."
Players are allowed to dress in just helmets, T-shirts, shorts and cleats the first three days of practice, according to National Federation High School guidelines. Shoulder pads are allowed on the fourth day and full uniforms can be worn after the six-day conditioning period concludes.
Coaches have mentioned getting players to remove their helmets so the heat can escape the head. Two schools have set up one or two separate coolers of ice water with towels. Players can wrap the towels around their necks to help cool their bodies.
"We're making sure that we have a lot of scheduled water breaks and let the players obtain water at any point in practice," said first-year North Duplin head coach Hugh Martin. "We have an excellent training staff and they walk around with water bottles during the drills."
The National Weather Service issued heat advisories Monday and cautioned that conditions aren't expected to improve once the sun sets each evening. The muggy temperatures remain a threat and could still lead to dehydration issues if athletes over-exert themselves.
"We've also taken into consideration some of our activities; not being as intense early as they are later," said Martin, whose team practices at 6:30 each evening. "After about an hour or so, you can tell a difference (temperature-wise)."
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