With temperatures remaining in the triple digits for the 33rd consecutive day, Waxahachie ISD isn’t taking any chances with the heat: Proper precautions are being taken to ensure students are hydrated at all times.
The Spirit of Waxahachie Indian Marching Band started its marching practices earlier this week, on Monday. To beat the heat, the band has split up its rehearsal spending from 7-10:30 a.m. outside and the remaining rehearsal time inside.
Assistant band director Kendra Ray said instructors are advising students to eat a balanced breakfast before coming to practice to provide them with the energy they need. The band students also are required to bring a gallon-sized water jug with them. If they run out of water, there are three 10-gallon containers to refill their jugs. Students also are required to wear hats and sunscreen.
Three staff members along with drum majors are acting as spotters to help keep students hydrated and watch out for any problems.
“We are giving the kids a break every 20 minutes and sometimes even more then that,” Ray said. “The students have been really good about letting us know if there is a problem and have been doing a really good job of keeping themselves hydrated.
“We tell the kids that if they feel like they are going to pass out to let their drum major or section leader know first (and) when notified they have their section leader or drum major walk them over into the shade,” she said.
Students are also advised drink a gallon of water the night before a practice to maintain a good level of hydration.
The Waxahachie football teams start practice this Monday at Lumpkins Stadium.
“Obviously, it is hot. It is always over 100 (degrees Fahrenheit) every year we start so it is not significantly higher than it has been before,” head football coach and athletic director David Ream said. “What we do to overcome the heat is start our day early. We start stretching at 6:45 a.m. and we get all of our conditioning (running, etc.) done before 8 a.m.
“After that we have several sessions of practice time before taking a break as mandated by the UIL,” he said. “Most of everything else is learning on the run and not doing a lot of conditioning stuff. The key for us is getting our conditioning done while it is still cool.”
Ream said at this time of the year there are always more water breaks, with those taking place every 20-25 minutes. There are two athletic trainers at each station with water bottles to give to players every third or fourth time they come back for a drill. Trainers also set up a tent with iced towels and walk around spraying students with water during the course of the day to keep them refreshed.
“We don’t just tell them (water) is available, we pretty much make them get a drink whenever we get a break to do so. Our trainers do a really good job and always have. We have about 20 young ladies who serve us our water and do a great job keeping the players watered down,” Ream said. “The biggest thing right now is that it is still 80 degrees at 6 a.m. and that is a concern because normally it is in the 70s when we get our conditioning done.”
Ream said the heat and the safety of his players are always on his mind.
“It is always a concern. I hear it from everybody, including my wife first thing in the morning, ‘Make sure you take care of those kids.’ It is always in the back of our mind no matter what. Our (practices) have been tried and true for a long time and gives us a chance to condition when it is cooler,” he said.
Area heat impacts
The National Weather Service said temperatures in the Dallas area topped 100 degrees Monday, when
a varsity football player at Waxahachie Advantage Academy, a charter school, was transported by Air Evac Lifeteam air ambulance to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas due to a heat-related issue. The player’s name and an update on his condition have not been released by school officials.
Also on Monday, the Associated Press reported an assistant football coach at a private high school in the Dallas area collapsed and died after the first day of practice this season. An online statement from Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano said Wade McLain died unexpectedly Monday afternoon and a cause of death was being sought. A prayer service was held Monday night for McLain, who also was an assistant baseball coach at the school, which is affiliated with Prestonwood Baptist Church. The school said McLain was married and had five children.
The University of Texas at Dallas recommends people working in the heat drink on a schedule, every 15-20 minutes, even if they are not thirsty It’s important to have a well-balanced diet, avoid caffeine and replace the sodium, potassium and carbohydrates lost when working out and sweating. Wear breathable clothing that allows sweat to evaporate off the body and avoid wearing dark clothing because it attracts the heat.
“When it comes to working and playing outdoors, it’s best to start slowly and acclimate to the heat,” associate athletic director at UT Dallas Tom Monagan said. “If not, you’re asking for problems. Most heat-related illnesses occur within the first few days of working out outside because the body isn’t used to the heat.”
Monagan said the color of a person’s urine will indicate whether one is dehydrated. Urine should appear light yellow (the color of lemonade), while dark urine (the color of cider) indicates dehydration.
Trouble signs for overheating include headache, nausea, visual disturbances, vomiting and chills. Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms should stop his or her activity, drink fluids and head indoors.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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