It is almost August, and that means it is time to start thinking about fall. At least according to the Indiana High School Athletics Association. Monday was the first day it allowed high schools to hold football practice.
But even though it is a fall sport, players do not get a break from the summer heat. Like many high school teams, the St. Joe Indians held their first two-a-days on Monday.
And while coaches spend a lot of time thinking about what the team should do on the field, trainers are spending a lot of their time watching the weather.
It has been a while since head coach Kevin Downey strapped on some pads.
“I hear it's like 15-20 degrees hotter, but I don't know, I haven't done it in so many years I can't remember,” Downey said.
But he has plenty of players who can tell him what it is like.
“With all the pads on, it gets really hot and you get drained and it gets tough to kind of focus sometimes. But you just gotta push through, give it your best,” said senior football player Mark Schroeder.
For the school's athletic trainer, keeping students safe in the heat is the most important issue this time of year.
“We start getting temperatures up into the 80s and 90s we have to start giving more frequent water breaks. For them, usually we have a break about every 15 minutes,” said athletic trainer Gayle Thomas.
At Monday's noon practice, that 15-minute mark was taken very seriously. Practice was full-speed, but the clock was running and every 15 minutes, it was time for a break.
“If they need water, they get it, and my coaches, they don't hold water saying, no you can't have the water. They don't use it as a punishment, which it should never be used as,” Thomas said.
“If anybody ever needs water they say, just don't even ask us; go get it if you need it. And we'll get a bunch of water breaks in the middle of practice,” said senior football player Timmy Kaniewski
So, the players are not only practicing football.
“This is what they're going to be able to do when they're on the field Friday nights. To be able to re-hydrate themselves and get themselves back into game mode, so that they can handle the whole four quarters,” Thomas said.
St. Joe had a practice at seven on Monday morning and at noon.
Starting Wednesday, they will try to avoid the hottest parts of the day by having practice at seven a.m. and five p.m.
The trainer says she tries to educate parents on some good ways to keep the players hydrated.
She says drinking sports drinks is always good, but another almost equal alternative is drinking a glass of chocolate milk after practice.