Football players fight the heat -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Football players fight the heat

August 1, 2006

Albany-- Soaring temperatures are more than an uncomfortable nuisance.  They're dangerous. A Rockdale County High School football player died from heat stroke Tuesday morning after he collapsed following practice Monday.

Most schools in our area will start football practice on Wednesday and the heat is certainly a concern for those young players and their coaches.    

Come rain or shine, football players must hit the field for practice.

"We spent thirty minutes on the offense. Now we'll spend thirty on the defense," said Coach Allen Lowe. Tough and rough work.  It's day two for the Deerfield-Windsor Knights. Coach Allen Lowe says it can definitely get hot on the field.

"The humidity has been kind of bad," says Lowe. Something the players know first hand. "The heat will get you," says player David Lightle.

Knights fullback and linebacker David Lightle has had to sit out of the past couple of practices. "I can't practice today because my blood pressure is high," says Lightle.

His high blood pressure and high heat doesn't mix.  But even when his pressure is lower, he and the other players have to be careful because of soaring temperatures. "We have plenty of water breaks and the coaches tell us to drink plenty of water before we go to bed and when we wake up nothing but water and Gatorade," says Lightle.

Coaches also look out for players by giving them a little relief from the heat by limiting pad usage.

"If there are drills we can do without them, we'll do the drills without them. There's no need to add ten extra degrees of heat," says Lowe.

But Coach Lowe admits there's no set procedure. "There's no magic formula," says Lowe. It's about doing what they can to keep kids safe on the field.  Parents agree. "Especially when you've got your own son out here, we think about it a lot," says parent John Reese.

Leading up to the first game, Lightle will also be thinking about it. "You think about it when you go out there. You worry about it," says Lightle.

That's the most important play that he and his fellow players can remember while practicing on field, being cautious.

"We don't need a hero right now. We want those heroes on Friday nights," says Lowe. To get to the Friday night lights, they have to first beat the daytime rays of the sun.  

When the players wear full pads, they have coolers at each station so they can get water. Players also look out for each other.  The linemen tend to get tired fast so if other players see them huffing and puffing, they'll run and get them some water.  

Deerfield-Windsor also has trainers on the field to look out for players as they practice.