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Football coaches taking precautions against extreme heat

NATCHEZ — When it comes to keeping players hydrated during practices in extreme heat, ACCS coach Paul Hayles likes to use the eyeball test.

“If we break and one of the coaches sees a kid who looks like he needs to sit out a few minutes, we’ll grab him and put a water bottle in his hand,” Hayles said.

“We might get a few funny looks, because they don’t want to sit out, but it’s better to be safe.”

And with temperatures reaching triple digits this week, football coaches around the area are being especially careful that they not put their players in any kind of danger.

“God’s been good to us in that we haven’t had any issues, but it could happen really fast,” Hayles said.

“Really, you have to get the kids out there in the heat and get them acclimated to it. We started practices off with helmets, shorts and T-shirts for three days, then move to shoulder pads, and finally full pads.”

Having water readily available is also something Hayles said is important in keeping his players from having heat-related problems.

“We have had to shorten our periods to 15 minutes each, when we used to go a lot longer. We have managers that have water bottles for the kids any time they need them, and we have five-minute water breaks.”

And Hayles isn’t the only local head coach that’s following that plan. Natchez High School coach Lance Reed said he’s making sure his players have plenty of chances to get water.

“Our basic rule is a lot of breaks and a lot of water,” Reed said.

“Our players are definitely aware of when they need to get some water, and we tell them when to break, and that they can get water at any time.”

Reed also said he scheduled his practice times in order to avoid the major heating period of the day.

“We set our practices at 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. when we started two-a-days. This week, we’ve been doing them in the evening,” Reed said.

“The first week, it started to get a little hot in the latter part of the second practice, but we’ve managed to avoid the heat for the most part.”

Cathedral coach Ron Rushing said he’s made sure water will be easily accessible in practices, whether during drills or water breaks.

“We have trainers that get water to them, and we have two water machines. One’s on a dolly that we can roll over to them at any time, and the other is a machine with eight spigots,” Rushing said.

“We also have a big tent that they can stand under during water breaks that we have 10 to 15 minutes. So far, we’ve had no problems with cramps, or anyone falling down.”

Trinity coach David King said he also depends on his managers to get players water during the practices.

“Jessa Novak, Jesse Cable and Julia Stevens have all been working hard in making sure our players get water whenever they want,” King said.

“They’re constantly walking around with water. We also make sure to give our players extended water breaks.”

And even though King said he thinks his players are well acclimated to the heat, he’s not about to push his luck.

“This week (the heat) has been especially dangerous. The days of running them to death are over,” King said.

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