Fall sports season has kicked off for high school athletes in Eastern Carolina, but the scorching sun is forcing them to approach outdoor practices with caution. At New Bern High School, Athletics Director shared that the football team has encountered instances when they had to postpone afternoon practices until the evening, to avoid the intense heat.
This measure underscores the serious approach schools are adopting to ensure athletes' well-being during practice sessions. In light of the soaring temperatures, local public school authorities are emphasizing the importance of meticulous monitoring during outdoor practice sessions.
Greg Grantham, the Onslow County Coordinator Director, highlighted the presence of trained medical professionals overseeing practices. These professionals meticulously track the wet bulb temperature—a critical factor in gauging heat stress.
The wet bulb temperature is monitored 30 minutes before practice commences and continues to be monitored hourly throughout the session. If the wet bulb temperature surpasses a certain threshold, practices are adjusted in line with the guidelines set by the North Carolina High School Association.
It's worth noting that once games are underway, the responsibility shifts to the officials to make calls regarding necessary hydration breaks, further underscoring the focus on athletes' safety.
Optimal Preparations for Heat
To tackle the heat, athletic trainers are advising athletes to adequately prepare themselves.
Hydration is paramount, with athletes encouraged to consume ample fluids. Alongside this, maintaining a balanced diet becomes crucial, with a particular emphasis on not skipping breakfast—a common practice among high schoolers.
The guidance provided by Nick Davic, an athletic trainer from Young’s Physical Therapy, stresses the significance of starting the day with a wholesome breakfast to fortify athletes for their rigorous practice sessions.
Interestingly, the acclimation process is an integral part of high school football practices. During this phase, players gradually adapt to the conditions, including not donning full gear for the initial practice days. This approach aids in reducing the risk of heat-related issues.
The dedication to athletes' safety extends beyond individual schools. Even sports leagues like the Pitt Greenville Soccer Association are taking proactive measures, occasionally canceling practices to safeguard their athletes from the intense heat.
As the fall sports season unfolds, the collective focus remains on striking a balance between training rigor and athletes' well-being amidst the challenging weather conditions.