In the heat of the summer, the football team is hard at practice, training for another successful season. The triple digit heat is the reason the coaches give water breaks every 15 minutes to re-hydrate their athletes.
These are prime conditions for players to suffer from heat exhaustion.
Granite Bay High School football coach Mike Valentine has seen first hand how athletes can be prone to heat exhaustion.
When Valentine played football in high school, a common practice was to take salt tablets to prevent dehydration, a tactic that Valentine described as “not good.”
“I used to take six or seven of (them a day),” Valentine said. “The whole idea was that (they) would retain water.”
GBHS school nurse Linda Warfield said that there are three levels of heat exhaustion.
“There’s a milder one, (in which the athlete experiences) heat cramps” Warfield said.
This least impactful phase should be treated by resting, cooling off and hydrating. After doing this, Warfield said that players have the option to return to playing.
The second phase can be recognized by certain symptoms, such as disorientation, Warfield said. To treat this, it is important that athletes take breaks to rehydrate and rest. The decision to check in with a doctor is up to the player.
“The full blown (case of heat exhaustion) is (when) you don’t have sweating, (which means) your body is shutting down” Warfield said.
The most harmful form can be a real life-threatening case. The player should seek emergency medical help right away.
Heat exhaustion is not only a threat during outdoor sports, Warfield said, but players should be wary of heat at all times.
“It’s generally sun related, but you can be overheated at any place,” Warfield said. “If you get into a hot environment and you’re dehydrated, you can have a problem.”
The football program, which has arguably the worst conditions in terms of heat, is excellent at monitoring the players’ well being.
“The football program brings out jugs of water, has individual cups for each player and has routine breaks,” Warfield said.
When Valentine played football, it was “just the opposite.”
“The idea was ‘be a man’—one glass of water in a two in a half hour practice,” Valentine said.
Warfield said that GBHS coaches are very good at “water management”, which means that they routinely take breaks to give the students water.
As a coach, Valentine said that he witnesses the beginnings of heat exhaustion in his athletes.
“They start to get headaches and they won’t feel very well,” he said. “But (it never progresses) to where they pass out.”
GBHS senior Ashkan Mizani, says that heat is a factor, but rarely a reason for injury.
Mizani, who has played football since his freshman year, said that GBHS football coach Ernie Cooper reminds them to hydrate all throughout the day.
“It’s nothing too serious,” Mizani said.
If people are more aware about staying hydrated, heat exhaustion can be avoided.