Football Players Cope With Summer Heat

High school football players are hitting the practice field this week amid growing concerns about staying safe in the summer heat.

The recent heat stroke death of pro football player, Korey Stringer, was a tragic reminder that working out in the hot days of summer can be dangerous.

South Mississippi teams have long endured practice sessions in the heat of early August.

But  coaches and trainers are serious about keeping their players safe.

The D'Iberville football Warriors battle each other for starting positions on the practice field. They compete in a variety of conditioning drills. But they're also facing another foe on this second day of practice: the South Mississippi heat of early August.

"We keep a close eye on it. All the coaches have been through training and recognize the early signs of heat exhaustion and so forth," said head coach, David Russell.

In the heat of competition, players may not realize it when their bodies reach the point of overheating. But the coaches and trainers keep a constant watch for the warning signs. They also stress playing smart in the summer heat.

Donna Swilley is the team trainer.

"We're normally in the 90 plus heat index temperatures. So we have to be smart about the heat. We have to keep them well hydrated. We weigh in and out and watch how much weight they lose. And try and make sure they replenish that weight before the next day."

Jason Hockaday says staying in shape over the summer helps players cope with the heat and humidity of early August. Overcast clouds and breeze off the water make practice a bit more bearable.

"It don't bother me that much. Being outside all summer you know. But it's getting hot. The wind, the wind helps a lot," said Hockaday.

Conditioning drills can wear the players down quickly. But the team knows that every 15 minutes or so, they'll hear those two favorite words.

"Water Break!"

"We've always given them plenty of water breaks. Back in the old days they didn't believe in water. Nowadays we understand the studies that have been done. Water is very vital to a successful practice. And we always give them plenty of water," said Coach Russell.