By: Miguel Rodriguez(@Miguel_Rod0914)
With the recent passing of 16-year-old Riverdale High School student Zachary Polsenberg, who suffered a heat stroke during the school’s offseason football workouts, local schools and universities alike haven’t taken the incident lightly.
Barron Collier High School football head coach Mark Jackson stressed the importance of setting up his student-athletes for success, including educating on how to prepare their bodies for the Florida heat when they attend summer workouts.
“You have to make sure you have the things that’s there for them to be successful and number one you have to educate them,” said Jackson. “Before they even come to workouts they need to be hydrated, and you want to make sure they know the type of foods they need to eat. Once they’re there you want to give them a break during the workout and make sure you have plenty of coaches to monitor the players.”
While coaches around both Lee and Collier Counties hold summer workouts to better their players during the offseason, Jackson noted that the player’s health comes first.
“You want to push them but again you have to be smart when pushing them,” said Jackson. “If they come up and they’re dizzy or they’re throwing up then you want to get them help, you want to get water, you want to get them in the shade and you want to monitor them until the situation is over. Hopefully they don’t get to that point because it’s scary when that happens.”
Jackson also mentioned adjusting the time he holds team workouts due to the heat.
“We workout and we bring them in and we’re done at 11 a.m. every day,” said Jackson. “We try to stay out of the hottest parts of the day even when practice starts in August.”
While universities like FGCU hold summer workouts similar to high school sports, Head Athletic Trainer Nicole Neal and her staff ensure that their student athletes are prepared to tackle offseason workouts.
“All of our sports, especially the fall sports, put together a summer training program so that when they come back to campus they already have a minimal fitness level,” said Neal. “Part of that is accommodation to the heat, and what we try to do is not run or do any fitness in the heat of the day. We adjust it to either the mornings or the evenings and they’re supervised by a coach who has emergency experience.”
Keeping an eye on their athletes during training sessions, Neal and her eight certified athletic trainers weigh each player before and after to track how much water each student-athlete lost during their workout.
“When we get in season and they’re reporting back as a team and we’re going twice a day we do pre and post workout weigh ins so we can monitor their hydration,” said Neal. “They have to get back within three percent of their pre workout weight or we won’t let them work out again. We do that every single day during preseason and if it’s really hot, we continue to do it during regular season.”
While all of the universities’ coaches are CPR and AED certified, the NCAA mandates that student-athletes are tested for sickle cell disease because sickle cell can increase the probability of heat stroke in inhabitants.
“Something that differs from high school, is that the NCAA mandates that we know the sickle cell status of each of our athletes because sickle cell can predispose someone to heat on us,” said Neal. “All of our coaches are aware of which kids have sickle cell and are maybe at risk so we take extra precaution with them.”
© 2017 Naples Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.