East Texas high school football players take extra precautions against dangerous heat

Across East Texas, high school football coaches are taking extra precautions to prepare their athletes to face a common rival – the heat.
Published: Aug. 12, 2023 at 12:30 PM CDT
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BULLARD, Texas (KLTV) - Across East Texas, high school football teams are practicing daily to prepare for the regular season, and coaches and staff of every team are taking extra precautions to prepare their athletes to face a common rival – the heat.

The Bullard Panthers are one of many teams practicing sometimes twice a day. In the hours they spend outside on the field, they can lose several pounds of fluid through sweat and face the risk of heat exhaustion and extreme dehydration.

While there is no way to avoid the heat altogether, they have a system to handle it and prepare their athletes.

“There are several avenues that we take to avoid heat issues – number one is acclimation,” said Bullard Head Athletic Trainer Jeff “Doc” Shrode. “We hope that our athletes are out during the summer. Matter of fact, I send out statements and Facebook posts and emails to say, ‘Hey, don’t sit at home. Get outside!’ We have a summer camp that we hope that all the kids are here and getting used to the heat.”

Acclimation isn’t the only safety precaution they take.

“Nutrition is our number one thing. We try to teach our kids that nutrition is the most important. Having the right foods, the right drinks, all of that kind of thing, before you get here, is so important,” Doc said.

He gives athletes a simple diet to follow before and in between practices.

“Get some chocolate milk and get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You’re looking for carbs; you’re looking for proteins, and you’re trying to replace those electrolytes,” he said with a smile.

He also advises they salt their food to help replenish sodium levels that have decreased from sweating a lot, and he tells players to drink at least half an ounce of water for every pound they weigh, during and after practice.

Doc also has the important job of teaching the student athletic trainers about preventing, recognizing and treating heat-related illnesses.

“We tell them not to let the athletes say ‘no’ too many times because athletes will get in the middle of practice, and they think they’re fine, and they don’t need water, but we tell them not to let them say ‘no’ more than once and put the bottle up there and make them drink some water.”

Bullard Athletic Director Scott Callaway said their mission is simple.

“That’s our responsibility: to take care of them, and their safety is the number one priority,” he said.

He explained that sometimes kids think they are invincible, but it is the job of the coaches and staff to protect their players by having emergency plans, well-prepared athletic trainers and an educated team that knows how to take care of their bodies to play the sport they and so many others love.

The regular season starts the week of Aug. 24, according to the East Texas Football Officials.

Bullard High School’s head athletic trainer talks about keeping football players healthy in the extreme heat, while also preparing them for the upcoming season.