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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Area athletes try to beat the heat

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Northview soccer player, Michael Gallion, cools off during practice on Wednesday afternoon. Area athletes have been encouraged to stay as hydrated as possible in order to remain cool despite extreme temperatures.
As temperatures soar ever higher and the heat index rips through the triple digit threshold, practice must go on for area teams.

At Northview High School, the pigskin still flies through air seemingly as thick as Cajun gumbo during football practice. Soccer players still work on drills and cross country runners still put in their mileage in temperatures that make nearly everyone else run for the comfort of air conditioning.

With practice time more valuable than ever as fall sports seasons seemingly begin earlier each year, area coaches don't have the luxury of canceling any practice. However, that doesn't mean that they aren't taking precautions to protect their athletes from the extreme conditions.

"The only real difference is that we've moved our afternoon session to 6-8:30 p.m.," commented Northview football coach, George Gettle. "We do the same things but we try and educate the kids on hydrating themselves prior to workouts and two-a-day practices."

With his players working out with minimal pads in Wednesday's afternoon heat, Gettle and his coaching staff directed their practice with their usual intensity. However, there were more breaks than there would be during fall's cooler temps.

"We try and use good common sense and give the kids extra breaks," said Gettle, now in his sixth year as head coach. "We have ice towels for the kids to put on their necks and we try and monitor the kids' weights."

Across the practice fields, the girls and boys soccer teams worked out alongside the football team under the watchful eyes of head coaches Don Bryan and Tony Alstott.

Athletic trainer Nicole Gonzales moved back and forth between practices providing cold water to her athletes and making sure that everyone stays as cool as possible.

"Each of the coaches have walkie-talkies in case they need to reach me when I'm not there and they all have my cell phone number as well," said Gonzales in her fourth year at Northview after her work at St. Vincent Clay Hospital. "Each team has coolers and the football team has a tent that was donated by the Army National Guard."

Gonzales also pointed to the monitoring of the athletes' weights before and after practice.

"We make sure the guys weigh in before and after practice. We've made a point of educating the players on the importance of hydrating not just during practice but before and then regaining the weight they've lost by drinking plenty of fluids and sports drinks."

Girls Athletic Director, Jan Gambill, also mentioned that the IHSAA sent out heat index warning cards that discussed safety in practicing during the extreme temperatures of the summer.

Bryan, in his first year as head coach of the boys' soccer team admits that the heat has affected practice, but that the team must battle through the adverse conditions.

"We've had the kids pushing a lot of fluids. (Wednesday's) practice has been tough, but yesterday wasn't as bad. The breeze helped some. We stop for water about every 15 minutes and are working more on technique rather than conditioning at this point."

"We have some kids that we know have some medical issues so we're keeping a close eye on those guys and make sure everyone continues to sweat. But really, we just have to deal (with the heat)."

Gettle agreed that despite the weather, practice must go on. But he feels that his players have handled the conditions well overall.

"I think the kids have handled (the heat) well. Collectively, I think they should be commended."

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