LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - School athletics do not stop, even when the temperatures reach into the triple digits. That is why it is critical that athletes put safety first and foremost while training outside in extreme temperatures, to prevent heat related illness and heat stroke.
“If a kid needs a break and needs to get cooled down, we do that," said David Stanley, head athletic trainer & site athletic director at Lawton High School. "That takes precedence over anything.”
Stanley said the team practices for about two and a half hours.
“It really puts a toll on the body," said Eric Wiley, LHS senior. "Five days a week out here, playing football in 106 degree weather.”
Thanks to summer training, the athletes are used to the heat.
“I give credit to the coaches in the off-season on how well they condition our kids and how well they acclimate them to the heat so when this season starts, they’re thinking about their assignment and whatever position they play and not worrying about the heat so much, because if you live in Oklahoma, you know it’s hot," said Stanley. "It’s not something new.”
The coaching staff is taking every precaution to keep the team safe.
“We’ve incorporated more water breaks into the practice schedule than before and I also have student trainers that are roaming the field giving water as kids need it," said Stanley. "We also do ice sponges, which basically, when we have a break, kids come over and we have sponges soaked in ice water and we just drench their head with it and just immediately cools them down.”
Stanley said he and his student trainers have to be constantly monitoring the team, because sometimes players do not speak up because they do not want to be taken out.
“I have to be pretty diligent. My student trainers have to be pretty diligent, on being alert and seeing the signs that they exhibit, because they’re there and you’ll see it," said Stanley.
The top four signs of heat related illness the trainers are watching for are disorientation, dizziness, performance issues, and lack of sweating.
Stanley said that all three athletic trainers in Lawton are in constant communication with each other during practice to make sure their athletes are safe.