CENTRAL TEXAS (KXAN) — Monday is the first day that high school fall sports programs can start practices for the upcoming season, and while it’s always hot here in August, it’s exceptionally hot this year.
Central Texas just had the hottest July ever recorded with the mean high temperature at 90.6° for the entire month, and typically August is hotter, so what are school districts doing to keep their players, particularly football players, safe during this dangerous heat?
We reached out to school districts throughout Central Texas to see what policies they had in place in addition to what the University Interscholastic League tells schools. We will update this story as we receive information from school districts.
For the most part, practices are being held in the morning hours to avoid the heat of the day. The first five days of practice are the UIL-mandated “acclimatization period,” and football programs can’t hold full-contact practices and are limited to one practice per day.
For programs in Class 5A and 6A that took advantage of the spring practice window, they can start practices August 8. If they didn’t, they can start Monday.
Football practices start at 5 a.m. and all activities are done before noon, the district said. Coaches also schedule practice time indoors for weight training and other portions of practice. Westlake High School, a three-time consecutive Class 6A champ, starts practice August 8.
District athletic director Jason Dean said players have an unlimited amount of water breaks so they can “get it when they need it.” There are also iced-down towels at every practice and players can grab one whenever they want, he said. Practices are during cooler parts of the day and student trainers help with position groups to address heat-related issues.
Varsity practices begin August 8 for the Hippos and they’ll start at 6 a.m. Freshman practices begin Monday and are from 5-7:30 p.m, the district said.
Lake Travis ISD
The Cavaliers start August 8 and have similar ideas to that of Westlake when it comes to practice. Lake Travis will start practice at 6:30 a.m. and players can “get water and Gatorade at their discretion.” There are extra water breaks depending on the temperature and coaches will also reduce the intensity of practice and drills if it gets too hot or humid, the district said. They also have trainers to help out during practices and keep an eye on players.
All programs with the exception of Glenn did spring practices, so only Glenn started practice Monday. Practices will be in the morning “when possible,” the district said. The district makes practice determinations using a chart that outlines what activities are allowed at certain air temperatures or heat indices.
The UIL said it sent reminders about heat-related guidelines and resources from the National Federation of State High School Associations to all athletic directors, coaches and band directors.