The temperature has been so hot this summer in Texas that it’s on pace to become the second hottest on record behind 2011.
With the football season officially underway, coaches from across the state must balance the thin line between pushing their team enough to get into playing shape, and keeping them hydrated enough not to cause injury.
This has coaches implementing more water breaks than normal.
“We’ll have a number of 20-minute breaks and cooling stations at every drill,” Nolan Catholic coach David Beaudin said.
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His program actually started practice on Aug. 1 since they are a TAPPS school.
“No kid will have to ask for water,” Beaudin said. “We’ll shorten practices too, which is never a bad thing. We will monitor our guys. We have to be smart about it.”
For most coaches, it’s about when to practice. The earlier the better to beat the sun or wait until the evening when it starts to “cool off.”
Some coaching staffs, like Boswell’s, even opt for a “Midnight Madness” practice to kick things off.
“It’s kind of taken a life of its own and there’s an excitement to it,” said Boswell coach John Abendschan, who first started it in 2012. “People say you should be excited at the end of the season, but my goodness, if you don’t get excited at the start of the football year then you’re crazy.”
Kennedale, which reached the Class 4A Division I state final last season, is another school that implemented the “Midnight Madness.”
“Why not do it at midnight,” Abendschan said. “We had so many people in the community last year come out and watch I thought, we can’t change it.”
This week’s forecast actually doesn’t look all that bad. Save for the triple-digit days expected on Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday through the following Monday has rain in the forecast and a high of a glacial 93 degrees. That’s much better than the end of July when temperatures were rutinely in the 100s, including 109 on July 21.
As you could imagine there was very little rain in July. Only 0.24 of an inch of rain fell last month at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The four-month stretch from April-July was the second driest such stretch in DFW history at 4.15 (1934 was the driest of all-time).
“I just see diminishing returns,” Abendschan said. “Yes, we’ll condition and you have to get use to it. There might be a chance during the season that you’d play in that heat, so you have to be prepared. But you also don’t want to overdo it. We take full advantage of 6 a.m. practices.
“If you can get a lot done before it gets hot, we’ll be a better team for it and longevity wise you don’t want to burn that candle down during the first three weeks. You need to have something left in the tank down the road.”
Boswell, which has turf at Pioneer Stadium, is in the Eagle-Mountain-Saginaw school district, which has a heat policy. It states that when temperatures reach 96-99 degrees or heat index rises to 104 degrees that all outdoor sports will include a 5-minute break every 30 minutes, and practices can’t exceed 2 hours. Also, water should be available at all times and helmets have to remain off during breaks.
“We’re going to take care of our kids,” Abendschan said. “Whatever the case may be – go to grass, wear shorts or take more water breaks. We also may go late at night.”
Indoor practice facilities will serve as a welcomed home for those fortunate enough to have one.
The most recent one built was at Colleyville Heritage and Grapevine this summer.
“What a commitment by the Grapevine-Colleyville community to their kids,” Colleyville Heritage coach Joe Willis said. “Not just to the football kids, but everyone in the district get to enjoy it.
“When elements are bad – it’s too hot or there’s lightning or even when it’s too cold – we can bring our kids in here. Our district wants to be the best and they put their best foot forward when they built this thing because it’s good for the kids.”
Willis will conduct most of his practices outside though.
“We want to practice where we’re going to play and most of our games will be outside,” he said. “But the good thing is when the weather is bad then we have a backup plan.”
Other notable schools with indoor facilities include Aledo, Allen, Prosper, Southlake Carroll, Highland Park, Euless Trinity, Frisco Lone Star, Kennedale and schools in the Arlington, Plano and Northwest ISD.