SAN ANTONIO – High school football is back but under some extreme heat and temperatures. Hundreds of players and coaches across the state hit the field Monday for the official start of practice for the 2023 season.
La Vernia High School coaches and players are doing anything to beat the heat, including practicing before the sun comes up. The Bears started practice at 6 a.m.
“We did that last year. We felt like it worked well and kept our kids out of the heat, especially now that this summer’s been brutally hot. It helps us keep them out of the heat a little bit, a little fresher,” said La Vernia High head coach Brad Molder.
The University Interscholastic League has implemented several guidelines for schools during hot weather conditions.
Some of those guidelines include water must be on the field and readily available to athletes at all times, and it is recommended that a minimum of 10 minutes be scheduled for a water break every half hour.
“We’ve been preaching hydration all summer and all season, make our guys carry around a gallon of water and different things like that. You’ve got to stay hydrated, eat right after workouts,” said Marion High School head coach Ryne Miller.
Miller says the UIL is also pushing for coaches to test the air before practice using a wet bulb globe temperature index, or WBGT, which takes into account several environmental factors in the heat. The UIL Medical Advisory Committee recommends the use of the WBGT index.
“An index that gives us like a three-category template to go off of, and it’s based off humidity and heat and everything in the air. We want to make sure we follow those following those guidelines,” said Miller.
Trainers and coaching staff are also closely monitoring signs of heat illness, including significant weight loss, vomiting and fatigue. The UIL says athletes should weigh each day before and after practice and have weight charts checked.
According to UIL guidelines, a 3% weight loss through sweating is considered safe, and over 3% is in the danger zone.
Over a 3% weight loss, the athlete should not be allowed to practice in hot and humid conditions. The guidelines also detail recommendations for an emergency, such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
“We met with our athletic training staff to make sure that they’re monitoring, the coaches monitoring also. It’s just one of those deals we’re going to follow and make sure obviously the athletes’ health is the number one priority for us,” said Miller.