KELLER (CBSDFW.COM) – On one of the hottest days of the year, thousands of high school football players returned back to the field for the start of practice.
Keller High School’s Varsity Football players got an early start – a morning workout followed by a late practice Monday evening.
The Freshmen squad took the field at the hottest time of day – 4 p.m.
In Keller ISD alone, some 250-300 students will be back for football this week at each of the four high schools.
“We worried about that. Typically August gives us our hottest weather. We are one of the districts across the state that has a very definite heat, cold and lightning policy,” said Bob DeJonge, Director of Athletics for Keller ISD.
DeJonge says the district-wide heat policy helps guide coaches and trainers on safety precautions to take when the temperature reaches dangerous highs.
For example – when the mercury rises between 100 and 104 degrees, high school players must take water breaks every 30 minutes. Practice can’t exceed two hours, and the athletes can’t wear pads or full uniforms – only t-shirts and shorts and helmets. Breaks must last 5 minutes.
When the temperature is even hotter – 105 degrees to 109 – breaks are taken every 20 minutes.
110 degrees is the cut off temperature for any outdoor sports practice in the school district.
“One of the most important things is, don’t arrive at practice with a hydration deficit,” said DeJonge, adding that many of the student athletes have worked out in the heat this summer in the strength and conditioning program.
The heat policy sets guidelines for other fall sports, like cross country and tennis. It also dictates outdoor time down to the elementary school level.
“I think a formal policy is really needed to keep kids safe. That way I’m not deciding if I want to go ten more minutes of practice, or if I can get one more repetition in. If time’s up, time’s up. When it’s time for a water break, it’s time for a water break. We don’t skirt the rules,” said DeJonge.
DeJonge says coaches and trainers know what signs to look for in players, should they need to take a break and spend some time indoors or cooling down with cold compresses.
“We take it very seriously. We learn the safeguards of what to watch in practice, when a kid’s attention span dwindles, when they get red in the face or a little sluggish. We get him out of the sun and into a cool environment with some cold compresses on him, to keep him safe,” said DeJonge.
Monday, the freshman practice wrapped up 30 minutes early due to heat. Tuesday’s practice will be moved to 10 a.m. The coaches and athletics staff monitor weather conditions on an hourly basis and make decisions on how to practice according to the policy, said DeJonge.
Keller High’s first varsity football game is scheduled for August 27th – when temperatures could still be triple digits – so the team begins acclimating to the weather now.
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