Outdoor college and prep teams in the area spend their preseason practices with the temperature hovering near triple digits, so keeping players hydrated and not suffer from the heat-related illnesses is a priority of trainers and coaches during the hot summer afternoons.
Trainers Mike Pelton and Brian Harvey spend different ways to make sure Red Demons and Conquistadors will not be affected by dehydration or other effects of the hot weather that arrived the first day of practice on Monday.
Pelton said he and his student trainers are making sure the DCHS players get water and drinks with electrolytes, so players stay hydrated; especially during the afternoon practices when most of the Demon teams work out due to class schedules.
The head trainer is always monitoring the temperature and the humidity; and the student trainers walk around with water bottles for players get liquids when needed at any practice.
"We're going through a time of climatization for the kids right now," Pelton said. "I want to compliment the coaches for what they did over the summer to keep the players in shape in the weight room. Out here for football, we're doing most of the heavy conditioning in the morning practice when the temperatures are cooler."
Harvey's method is for players to start getting hydrated days before the start of actual practices.
Harvey said it helps that the DC3 squads have more time for practices during the day with some teams working out in the early morning to not deal with the sun and heat bearing down on them. There is also discussion with the coaches about the weather conditions so there is no overexertion from players.
"The coaches do a good job of staying on the players about hydration," Harvey said. "Staying hydrated doesn't start an hour before practice. It starts three days before practice or games. We tell them that they should drink so much water that they almost feel like they're drowning and their urine should be clear."
Harvey also said players need to also do a good job on nutrition so they don't get injured due to overexertion.
"If you're not putting the fuel back in your body, then you're going to start having problems with the heat," Harvey said. "The body doesn't have the fuel to rebuild itself because of some of the player's overexertion. For some, it's new because they haven't understood the grind of being a college player."
Many of the Conq teams started preseason practice more than two weeks ago and also went through a period of conditioning that allowed the players to start getting acclimated to the area and the hot weather.
The DC3 trainer also has water caddies, as well as ice and water, all throughout the Conq practice field for all the teams that use it in preparation for their upcoming seasons; as well as a group of student trainers to help in making sure players are healthy despite the heat.
"We still have acclimation days when we start practice so they get a chance for their bodies to get adjusted to the high temperatures," Harvey said. "The main thing we do out here is to keep them cooled down and make sure they have water available.
"We also monitor their weights before and after practice to see how much water weight they are losing, so they have an idea of how much they have to drink through the evening to get their body weight back up."
Pelton also discusses the conditions on the football practice field with head coach Dave Foster now that the squad is in helmets and pads. The discussions involve what drills should or should not be done in the searing heat. Pelton said players have a sports drink before practice, again during breaks between drills, and at the close of the day's workouts.
"We have the kids watch their urine color and their fluid intake during the day for all of the sports," Pelton said. "We're making sure we are monitoring the athletes and the coaches have done a good job making appropriate modifications or adjustments for the heat."