High quality H2O | CraigDailyPress.com

High quality H2O

With heat-related deaths in athletics have been highly publicized in the last year, MCHS athletes and staff are taking the precautions for safety during two-a-days

David Pressgrove

Two-a-day practices are into their fourth day for Moffat County High School athletes and the coaches and trainers are making sure that dehydration and heat stroke does not become a problem at the outset of the new season.

Athletic Director Jim Loughran had an introductory meeting with coaches Wednesday and part of the time was taken to make sure coaches were taking the proper precautions with their athletes.

“I wanted to make sure everyone was aware of the health factors,” Loughran said.

Loughran said coaches have a pretty good understanding of how far they can push and still maintain a certain amount of empathy for their athletes.

“It used to be for everyone that coaches would want to make their kids throw up the first day,” he said. “The first two weeks of practice is still a right of passage for the athletes, but we take the proper precautions now.”

The death of Minnesota Viking’s player Korey Stringer created a media flurry about heat stroke and overworking athletes at practices. Yet the problem is not new, with 103 heat-related athletic deaths recorded since 1960, according to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Awareness.

“A lot of the deaths have occurred in areas of high humidity,” said MCHS athletic trainer Jeff Pearson. “We live in a pretty dry area so it isn’t as big of a worry for these teams.”

According to Pearson, high humidity causes the body to tell itself it doesn’t need to sweat and therefore it won’t properly cool off with perspiration. The body then overheats and that is when it gets dangerous.

Despite less of a threat in the dry air of the Yampa Valley, coaches are still aware of the importance of hydration.

“We’ve made the practices at the cooler times of the day (6 a.m. and 6 p.m.) and we schedule in water breaks often,” said head football coach Kip Hafey. “Jeff Pearson has also been great about educating the athletes about proper nutrition and hydration.”

Pearson said the first priority for the fall athletes is drinking water before, during and after practice.

“The best fluid for them is water,” he said. “The sports drinks aren’t as easy to break down because of their high levels of sodium and sugar.”

When it comes to food, Pearson suggested that since the busy Bulldogs are burning so much energy it is important to have sources of fast energy in the way of carbohydrates.

“Pancakes, pasta, bread and potatoes are just a few of the foods that should be on their plates,” Pearson said. “It is also important for them to have some fats for the energy at the end of practice after the carbohydrates are burned off, but they definitely need those carbs first.”

Head soccer coach Mick Havrilla said his main priorities are to educate the athletes to be able to monitor their own bodies and to build up their fitness level.

“They are the ones who know how they feel so it is important to let them know what to look for,” he said. “My athletes know what symptoms they might experience when dehydrated or over heating and know to take it easy at the first sign.”

For the second priority of slowly building fitness Havrilla said, “I won’t run them ’till they drop the first week. We’ll build through the season their fitness so they can be there for me at the end of the season.”

Loughran said there has been only one reported instance of heat-related weakness and it was immediately taken care of for the athlete.

“We have a knowledgeable staff that is doing a good job,” Loughran said.

“With the combination of the weather cooling in August, spreading practices in the morning and evening, and the knowledge of our trainers, coaches and athletes, we are keeping our athletes safe.”

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