Kip Hall can better keep up with his football players now that school is back in session.
Hall, the head coach at Druid Hills, is able to monitor his players’ fluid intake and make sure they’re eating right. With the heat index hovering near or above 100 degrees for the past few weeks, that’s the best way Hall and other coaches around DeKalb County can ensure that their players are safe from the heat.
“We water our kids every 15 minutes at practice and some of them take water bottles to class,” Hall said. “We make sure they’re eating lunch. The only times they get light-headed is if they don’t drink enough water or have enough to eat.”
Coaches are taking extra precaution regarding outdoor practices in the wake of the deaths of two Georgia high school football players. Both players—one at Locust Grove High Scholl in Henry County and the other at Fitzgerald High School in south Georgia—died after participating in summer workouts. The Fitzgerald player was attending a camp in Florida when he died.
“We take the heat very seriously and have talked to the kids about [the deaths],” Hall said. “We keep emphasizing the importance of eating right and drinking right.”
DeKalb County mandates that all outdoor activities be cancelled if the heat index reaches 103 degrees and all practices were cancelled Aug. 3 because of the weather. Coaches have use of a psychrometer, said DeKalb County director of athletics Ron Sebree, which gives wet and dry bulb temperatures and gives a heat index reading.
If the temperature is between 95 and 103 degrees, teams must either practice early in the morning or late in the afternoon, Sebree said.
“In addition to the heat, there is a concern for air quality in the middle of the day,” Sebree said. “The time for the worst air quality is between noon and 6 p.m. Any time the heat index is 103 or higher, the kids should not be outside.”
Hall has been diligent about monitoring his players and said he has not had a player fall ill from the heat in the six years he has been at Druid Hills. Hall took the Red Devils to a summer football camp at Jekyll Island and didn’t have any heat-related incidents.
“We do all our conditioning at the beginning of practice, so they’re not too tired at the end,” Hall said.
All coaches in DeKalb County are required annually to attend meetings regarding the heat, Sebree said.
“This year has been nerve-wracking because it has been so hot,” Sebree said. “We don’t want to hold the coaches too much, but we want them to be mindful that safety is our No. 1 priority. We want the coaches to understand that a kid’s life and safety is more important than winning games.”