Stillwater News Press

Sports

August 6, 2012

Coaches feel heat to keep kids cool

STILLWATER, Okla. — The heat is definitely on some high school coaches throughout the area. As football practices began Tuesday and softball teams try to prepare for the start of the season later in the week coaches are forced to figure out a way to deal with the heat.

“We got to put our big girl pants on and get used to this heat because I don’t think it’s going to go away,” said Stillwater High School softball coach Amber Davis. “We take water breaks every 10 minutes and they have to drink water or Gatorade during each break. We are using sea breeze towels this year and the girls seem to like them to put on their faces.”

While the softball team may not have a choice when it comes to playing in the heat, Stillwater football coach Tucker Barnard has his team practice before the field gets too hot.

“We’re practicing in the morning,” Barnard said. “It will still get hot, but we’ll be done on the field by 11 a.m. everyday. We’ll have tents, we’ll have misters, we’ll have water and Gatorade for the players. We’ll also structure practice a little bit different, where every hour we’ll go inside for about 20 minutes just to cool off a little bit.”

Barnard said those breaks should help keep his players from getting too hot, even when the Pioneers put on the pads starting Friday — where temperatures are expected to be a little bit cooler. During the time they’re inside Barnard will go over film with his players.

“I don’t think it will keep us from doing anything that we want to do,” Barnard said. “We’ve got a great training staff. Aaron Harmon works full-time and will be out here every minute of practice. That really allows us as coaches to coach football, while he gets to watch the kids. ... We won’t really back off anything we want to get done.”

Like Barnard, Morrison football coach Cory Bales will also be taking precautions with his players. But while most teams choose to go either early in the morning or late at night, Bales’ practices will start at around 3 p.m. every day.

“We felt like we might as well get acclimated to it as quick as possible,” Bales said. “Obviously, you have to be smart and careful. You have to increase the amount of breaks they get and make sure they’re getting plenty of fluids in their body.”

Bales said having his team practice in the middle of the afternoon will not only make them mentally tougher, but limit the adjustment they’ll need once school starts.

“It’s just kind of a mindset, and it’s one of the reasons why we don’t go in the evening time so much per se,” Bales said. “You’re going to be starting school and you’re going to get them on a rhythm and routine, and we want to keep that as much as we can.

“We do shorten our time a little bit, especially since it’s two-a-days. We kind of cut back about 30 minutes off each practice. Especially in the morning, we’re out of here before it gets too hot, so that allows for plenty of recovery time in the afternoon.”

With school just a few weeks away, Barnard is hoping for some relief from the heat but he feels prepared if that relief never comes.

“Once we get to school, we don’t really have a choice anymore,” Barnard said. “We’ll practice at our regular time, which will be at about 2:30 p.m. It will be pretty hot by that time. Again, hopefully, we’ll be pretty well acclimated by the time we get to that and we’ll just continue. Everybody in the state’s dealing with the same thing, so we’re not alone in that boat.”

Sports reporter Andrew Glover contributed to the story.

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