SAN ANTONIO – North East Independent School District classes start Monday, but thanks to head football coach Ben Cook, the MacArthur High Brahmas already have their work cut out for them this season.
“Today, we have an hour and a half practice.” Cook said Tuesday.
The players will be hitting the turf to practice from Monday through Wednesday during some of the hottest times of the day.
“This is my 10th season, and when you grow up here, it's always hot, so you just kind of forget about it.” said Gino Martinez, senior free safety.
One of the most important drills on the field is drinking water.
“We do it about every 20 minutes after every drill, and then when it gets toward the middle of practice, (we) take our pads off for five minutes and then we put them back on and then go back to work,” said Erik Molbe, senior defensive lineman.
“You also gotta eat. Come out here on an empty stomach, get light-headed and pass out,” Martinez said.
Coach Cook said being prepared to tackle the heat is a job that starts well before the players hit the field for practice.
Conditioning starts at home and continues all throughout the day.
“That's one thing that our administration is really good about -- they allow kids to have clear water bottles in school.” Cook said.
It’s part of a safety plan carried out to avoid heat stroke. It's something Cook has seen in his 23 years as a coach in South Texas.
The warning signs of heat stroke are dizziness, confusion and lack of sweat.
“There's been some times over my career where I’ve seen that happen, where we've actually had to (call emergency medical services for) a kid. We take it very seriously. Heat-related issues are not something that you tell a kid to get over,” Cook said.
With a winning game plan to stay healthy, the players say they're ready for the season ahead.
“We're going on (Aug. 31) against Marshall High School here at Heroes Stadium,” Cook said.