By NICK VIAN
Georgia is known across the country as a hotbed for high school football. However, the state’s hot temperatures have led to many cases of dehydration, heat strokes and even death.
With new laws introduced in 2013, high school football programs have changed the structure of practices to allow for more water breaks and rest for the players.
Jay Pearson, head athletic trainer at Brookwood High School, has been with the school for 15 years. A graduate from Ball State University, Pearson wields 19 years of experience in athletic training and has taken all of the necessary precautions to ensure safety for the athletes.
“We have mandatory water and PowerAde breaks during practice,” Pearson said. “We provide our athletes with PowerAde, water and juice before, during and after practice.”
Pearson takes readings every 15 minutes to make sure the temperature on the field is in compliance with state heat regulations and guidelines.
To make sure the players are not only staying hydrated but keeping their bodies cool, Pearson also has ice towels available which players can put on their heads and necks to cool the internal body temperatures of the athletes.
In the case of an emergency heat problem, all schools are also required to have a cold-water tub on the field to lower the internal body temperature for the athlete in need.
The risk of not properly hydrating can damage the body of an athlete. An athlete can develop heat exhaustion, heat stroke and body cramps which can lead to the athlete being hospitalized.
High schools have just wrapped up summer workouts and were also competing in seven-on-seven drills against other high schools all throughout the summer season. These drills have become very popular recently and allow many teams to show off their passing game before the season starts.
Brent VanderMeyden, a rising senior at Kennesaw Mountain High School, has been playing football throughout his high school career. VanderMeyden has been participating in the summer workouts and seven-on-seven drills now for two years.
“The coaches let us get water during morning workouts for about five to 10 minutes each break,” VanderMeyden said.
After workouts comes conditioning and walkthroughs with helmets and shorts for VanderMeyden and his team.
“We get breaks before and after conditioning and a couple during walkthroughs with the helmets and shorts,” he said.
VanderMeyden also has his own way of staying hydrated by eating yogurt and drinking two bottles of water before leaving his home and going to workouts.
The recent changes in the laws for high school football in Georgia have helped to reduce the number of injuries related to heat.
Georgia has also acted on the increasing number of concussions sustained by athletes during competition by creating a new law in 2013, requiring all athletes to sign a concussion waiver before they can even receive pads to practice in. This law also helps to ensure the safety of athletes by formatting their clearance to play to acknowledge the possibility of sustaining these types of injuries.