“This is great weather,” safety Rashad Roundtree said. “This feels like football.”
Thursday marked the first day that Georgia public high school teams were allowed to practice in pads. South Carolina public schools start practice Friday in helmets only.
When Lakeside began its practice at 8 a.m., coach Jarrett Troxler and his staff had taken precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses. On one corner of the field, the Panthers had a watering station. Nearby were two immersion tubs filled with water and a cooler loaded with ice.
Before every practice, Troxler records a Wet Bulb Globe Temperature index reading. Last year, the Georgia High School Association adopted a heat policy that included the index readouts, which measure heat by gauging temperature, humidity, air movement and radiant heat. For any reading of 82 and under, coaches have to provide three breaks an hour. If a reading hits 92.1, teams are not allowed to practice outside. Anything in between calls for different lengths of breaks and practices.
Troxler said he likes the new heat policy because it levels the playing field across the state. Before the GHSA instituted a heat policy last year, counties had different policies.
“I love how the Georgia High School Association adopted this very safe measure,” Troxler said. “It’s across the board. We all go by this.”
The heat policy isn’t limited to football. Every coach of an outdoor sport at Lakeside has a Wet Bulb monitor and must record the reading before every practice. Troxler, who also serves as the school’s athletic director, said he has to think about the safety of cross country runners and softball players at this time of year, too.
For his football team, Troxler allows players to get water any time they’d like.
“Never tell a kid ‘no’ if he wants water,” Troxler said. “I remember when I played if you asked for water you got ripped. Those days are gone.
“I’m never going to put winning a ballgame over a kid’s safety.”