The heat is on … and it’s time for football practice


Russ Kent - Inquirer Editor



I can smell it.

Take a stroll through Heise Park on Monday, take a great big breath, and see if you can smell it, too.

It’s the smell of high school football; the freshly cut grass on the practice fields, and shoulder pads and blocking sled cushion putting out their particular scents after spending the last nine months in storage. Every locker room in America has its own particular smells that waft into the public as you walk past an open door. There’s sweat; dirty socks, shirts and shoes; the medicinal aroma of Cramergesic, or whatever ointment is used now to soothe sore muscles; the bite of the antiseptic used to wipe off weights and other exercise machines; and baby powder (At least I used that stuff … a lot!)

If you play high school football, Monday is a day you love or a day you really, really hate. It’a the first official day of fall practice for all Ohio High School Athletic Association schools. But not just football. Cross country, golf, volleyball, girls tennis and — new to Galion this year — soccer practice begins today, as does field hockey in other parts of Ohio.

I played football at Galion High School, graduating in 1978. I played for three years when Bob Miller was head coach. Before my senior year, Miller and Don Barrick, his good friend and Galion’s defensive coordinator, left Tiger Town and headed to Orme Arizona, where they each coached 29 more years, finally retiring after the 2006 season.

Harry Beers took over my senior year as head coach. To say Harry was intense was an understatement. He ran practice like we were in the military.

I never minded the first day of practice, unless I had skipped summer conditioning, as I did my sophomore year. I hated the preseason that summer, especially the “gassers” at the end of each practice.

When I played we didn’t worry, nor really know much about concussions. If you got a little too much heat, you took a rest, usually kneeling on one knee. You drank some water until the dizziness went away. If you started feeling better, you returned to practice. If you didn’t, there was that walk of shame back to the locker room.

Today, coaches, players and parents are a lot more cognizant of injuries, and extreme weather.

The OHSAA has specific rules to deal with heat and humidity. And the way the summer of 2016 has been going, there are a lot more hot, humid days in the future.

Coaches and trainers have received training and know the signs and symptoms to look for when it comes to heat-related ailments. Teams should have Emergency Action Plans in place in case of extreme heat. Coaches are encouraged to be flexible about changing practice times. They’re also being asked to determine a Heat Index number. When that’s done, they are to act in accordance with these OHSAA guidelines.

Under 95 degrees Heat Index

• Optional water breaks every 30 minutes for 10 minutes in duration to allow hydration as a group.

• Have towels with ice for cooling of athletes as needed.

• Watch/monitor athletes carefully for necessary action.

• Re-check temperature and humidity every 30 minutes if temperature rises in order to monitor for increased Heat Index.

95 degrees to 99 degrees Heat Index

• Water shall always be available and athletes shall be able to take in as much water as they desire.

• Mandatory water breaks every 30 minutes for 10 minutes in duration to allow for hydration as a group.

• Have towels with ice for cooling of athletes as needed.

• Watch/monitor athletes carefully for necessary action.

• Helmets and other equipment should be removed when athlete not directly involved with competition, drill or practice and it is not otherwise required by rule

100 degrees (above 99 degrees) to 104 degrees Heat Index

• Water shall always be available and athletes shall be able to take in as much water as they desire.

• Mandatory water breaks every 30 minutes for 10 minutes in duration to allow hydration as a group.

• Have towels with ice for cooling of athletes as needed.

• Watch/monitor athletes carefully for necessary action.

• Alter uniform by removing items if possible and permissible by rules.

• Allow athletes to change to dry shirts and shorts at defined intervals.

• Reduce time of outside activity as well as indoor activity if air conditioning is unavailable.

• Postpone practice to later in day.

• If helmets or other protective requirement are required to be worn by rule or normal practice, suspend practice or competition immediately.

Above 104 degrees Heat Index—

• Stop all outside activity in practice and/or play, and stop all inside activity if air conditioning is unavailabe.

Stay cool and have fun and I’ll see some of you on the gridiron and elsewhere during the upcoming season.

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Russ Kent

Inquirer Editor

Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer, Morrow County Sentinel and Bellville Star. Email him at [email protected]

Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer, Morrow County Sentinel and Bellville Star. Email him at [email protected]

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