High school football practices start amid heat wave

Posted at 12:17 AM, Aug 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-02 21:43:07-04

It's almost football season in Kern County, a welcome time for fans and players alike.

But before we get to crisp and cool Friday night games, players have to practice. Many local high schools began running their practices on Monday, amid a heat wave that has Bakersfield temperatures in the triple digits.

"August is probably the worst month as we hit football season," says Edwin, an athletic trainer at North High School. He was busy preparing gear and water for his players, who would practice later that evening.

North High, like all schools in the Kern High School District, receives a daily email that details the projected temperature and air quality.

Coaches then make practice-related decisions based on the projections; for example, a forecast over 104 degrees means that that outdoor practices must be held earlier in the day or later in the evening.

"You don't realize how quickly your body gets dehydrated when the temperature is this high," said Brian Huens, the athletic director at North High.

North High (and likely many other high schools) are starting their season by getting players acclimated to the heat. Their first practice will be in helmets only, moving progressively towards the end of the week when they'll be in full pads.

And as key as hydration is, eating right is just as important according to Fred Smith, who is going on his 33rd year as an athletic trainer at Bakersfield College.

"In the early season they're breaking down," Smith said. "They need that fuel to recover and that protein to help rebuild and be ready for the next day."

Trainers at both the high school and college levels strongly recommended that players begin to hydrate days before their practices, especially during heat waves.