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Sweating Through Football Practice Can Be Dangerous For High School Athletes

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RALEIGH — The sweltering summer heat has returned to the Triangle. Sweating through August football practice is part of the game, but the guidelines to keep it safe are getting more strict.

When the heat index climbs well above 100, the Athens Drive High School practice field turns into one big oven.

"It's tough. It's just hard on your body," says senior Seth McKinney. "It wears you out. You're about to pass out after practice."

Two years after the heat exhaustion death of Triton High playerMax Draughon, local football coaches and trainers understand the potential danger as they push their players to perform.

"I know when I played, it was you got water if you deserved it and that was about it," says head coach Larry Simons. "Now we try to do it for health reasons. We try to give them a break every 15 to 20 minutes."

In addition to frequent water breaks, each Jaguar must also weigh in before and after practice to monitor hydration.

"Even the guys who are in pretty good shape, with this type of heat and with all the pads on, can still have a problem with water loss, heat exhaustion and stroke," says trainer Ed Wance.

Wance keeps coaches in tune with the temperature and humidity on the field. With two and a half weeks until the home opener against Apex, he says players must pound out a healthy balance between preparation and safety.

On extremely hot days, coaches will shorten practice or have players take off their pads for conditioning drills.