High school athletes try to beat the summer heat

7:07 PM, Aug 13, 2013   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +
Isabel Mascarenas Video Stories
More Isabel Mascareñas Stories

St. Petersburg, Florida -- The summer heat is here and it can be deadly, especially to young athletes. The National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Center shows since 1995, 42 high school football players died from heat stroke.

St. Petersburg High School's football team is like most high school teams. It avoids practicing between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., which is considered to be the hottest part of the day, and chooses instead late afternoons. 

Pinellas County assigns a team trainer to keep an eye on each player, still, if not careful, the heat can wear you down.

With temperatures in the 90's and under the Florida summer sun football practice can be grueling.

"It's been really hot this year," says Hunter Matirne, an 11th grader at St. Petersburg High School.

Put these St Petersburg High school football players in pads and the heat is on.

Matirne describes it as like "a steam room, really hot and humid".

Players say they've been conditioning all summer and practice kicked in this month.

St. Petersburg High School's head football coach Joe Fabrizio says his players are staying acclimated to the heat because they do it all summer. He says football has become a 12-month sport.

The Florida High School Athletic Association's new policy, adopted last year, requires schools to acclimate athletes to the heat. 

According to the policy, practice is limited to 18 hours the first week with one 3½-hour-long practice each day. The second week, a 2-1 rule is used each day -- with two practices one day followed by one practice the next day.

Eleventh grader Sean Kennedy says, "Every practice they tell us to hydrate drink water or Gatorade."

"We have three or four water breaks built into practice. The boys get drinks at the end of each drill," says Fabrizio.

"If you are feeling it, it's almost too late. Stop, cool down and get in a shaded place," says Dr. Richard Kuehne from Doctors Express in Clearwater.

Kuehne says he sees most heat-related illnesses in August and September.

"If you're out in the heat sweating and start feeling symptoms like headaches, excessive fatigue and feeling off -- that's a sign you're losing too much fluid getting dehydrated overheating," he says.

Kuehne says those are signs of heat exhaustion, ignore it, and you may have a life threatening heat stroke. He recommends one-wear, loose-fitting and light-colored clothing. To wear a hat that covers your ears and neck and avoid the outdoors between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Players know the number one rule to beating the heat. 

"Lots of water. Water, water, water everyday," Matirne says.

Coach Fabrizio says he tells his players to drink more than you need, even if you're not thirsty.

Dr. Kuehne recommends drinking a cup of water every 15 minutes -- that's one 16-oz bottle of water every half hour.

The number one heat-related illness Kuehne says he sees at the clinic is a sunburn. He suggests you lather up with sunscreen before heading outdoors and reapply every few hours. 

Isabel Mascarenas