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Football: Beat the heat – Wise County coaches prepare for hot start

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, July 21, 2018
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Keeping Cool

KEEPING COOL – Alvord’s Damon Ledet squirts water into his helmet during a practice in 2016. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

As temperatures at Decatur Municipal Airport soared to 110 degrees Thursday, people across Wise County did their best to beat the heat.

At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the temperature spiked to 108, breaking a record high of 107 set in 1925.

With no immediate relief in sight, coaches are preparing for sweltering conditions when football practices start Aug. 6. While the UIL does not have official temperature regulations, they do have guidelines for coaches and trainers to follow.

“I work with our trainer a lot on what we should and shouldn’t do,” said Alvord athletic director and head coach Pete Hart. “We have a level. If the heat index hits 115, we’ll go to the weight room first. If it’s at 110, we’re probably going out in shorts and T-shirts. We’ll do everything we can to not put our kids in a situation that’s dangerous.”

Staying Hydrated

STAYING HYDRATED – Decatur players drink water during practice. Wise County is under an excessive heat warning through Sunday. Football practices start Aug. 6. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

According to the UIL, if the temperature is above 82 degrees, athletes are at a “very high risk” for heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

To ensure athletes are adequately hydrated, most coaches have an open water policy. Instead of stopping practice for a water break, players are allowed – and encouraged – to drink any time they are not actively participating in a drill.

“We don’t have water breaks built into their schedule,” said Paradise athletic director and head coach Joe Koch. “We have water at the carts at each station. The players get it after every rep.”

Where coaches differ is when their teams should practice.

Paradise will be on the field from 5:15 to 8:15 p.m., starting Aug. 6. Koch said he believes in practicing the same time as their games to help get players acclimated to the conditions they’ll experience on game night.

Hart, on the other hand, prefers for his team to practice in the heat of the day.

Decatur will practice at midnight Aug. 6 and from 6 to 9 a.m. each day after that. The Eagles also have a multipurpose indoor practice facility at their disposal.

“I’ve always believed this – I don’t think you’re in a better place to handle [the heat] if you do your practices in the heat of the day,” said Decatur athletic director and head coach Mike Fuller. “I think you’re better off [doing] harder work in a cooler temperature. If you practice in the heat of the day every day, it’s going to cause more wear and tear.”

An excessive heat warning is in effect for Wise County through Sunday evening, as afternoon highs are expected to top out between 105 and 110 degrees.

The 2018 regular season kicks off Aug. 31.

“We’re going to make sure we take care of them,” Koch said. “The kids are first. As much as you want to win games, you have to coach the kids like they’re your own.”

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