Football players, coaches sweating the details of practice perspiration


High Schools

August 15, 2002|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

As the sun began its descent near the end of Gilman's second two-a-day workouts Tuesday, sophomore Justin Wiley wiped sweat from his face and discussed how he had just braved temperatures in the high 90s.

"Being a bigger guy, I drank tons of water. And if you feel bad in a drill, don't be afraid of telling somebody that you're feeling sick," said Wiley, 6 feet, 235 pounds, after practices that had run from 8 to 10:30 a.m. and 4 to 6:30 p.m. "I never thought of it being life-threatening until recently. I know about Korey Stringer. I can't let that happen to me."

Wiley was citing last summer's heat-related death of Stringer, a Minnesota Vikings lineman. But in 1998, freshman Daniel Bell, 13, of St. John's College High School in Washington, D.C., collapsed in football practice and died a few days later.

A University of North Carolina study updated earlier this year reported that 105 heatstroke-related deaths occurred among high school football players from 1955 through 2001. Seven of 10 high school football players who died in 2001 died of heat-related illness, the study said.

Today, as area public school football teams begin practices, coaches and trainers will be taking precautions to prevent similar tragedies from occurring. At Gilman, trainer Lori Bristow kept a watchful eye on Wiley and others during the private school's third practice.

"You always watch ... the big, young ones who might push themselves a little harder to win a spot," she said. "You want to keep an eye out, too, for the ones who took it easy over the summer, as far as their activity level," Bristow said.

She carried a digital sling psychrometer, a hand-held device that measures humidity and temperature.

"We have a chart that determines the number of water breaks needed per session, but kids can drink any time they want," she said, pointing to empty water bottles on the field and a watering station that serves 10 players at once.

For two decades, Dr. Joseph Martire, co-founder of Union Memorial Hospital's Sports Medicine Center, has advised Baltimore coaches on heat-related dangers.

"Most heat-related problems are preventable" said Martire, listing morning and late practices, pre- and post-practice weigh-ins, unlimited water breaks and monitoring of potentially harmful nutritional supplements as preventive measures.

"If a player loses more than 3 percent of his body weight - say a 300-pounder drops to 285 after practice - he shouldn't practice in the afternoon practice until he's within 2 percent, or 295 or better," Martire said. "If not, he's at a deficit and shouldn't practice until those fluids are back in his system. That's what happened to Korey Stringer."

Changing names

Edmondson's Redskins are now the Red Storm. The Woodlawn Warriors will eliminate imagery that might be offensive to American Indians. Walbrook clarified its nickname, also Warriors, as referring to "a Trojan warrior," said assistant principal Gregory Matthews.

But the Havre de Grace Warriors in Harford County and the Franklin Indians in Baltimore County remain intact.

The state school board has suggested such changes for some time but left decisions to the local school districts or to the individual schools.

"My directive came from the district office a year ago. None of us really wanted to make the change, but we understood why it had to be done," said Edmondson principal Delphine Lee.

But changes at Edmondson will not be immediately evident.

"Our scoreboard and the gym floor still have a chief's Indian head, and our football uniforms still say Redskins," Lee said. "We changed the nickname in June. We're working on a new mascot design. We've not received or requested funding yet, but when the mascot's done, I'll request funds."

Poolesville High in Montgomery County will receive an estimated $80,000 for its county board-mandated nickname change from Indians to Falcons, said athletic director Mike Riley.

Without similar support for Edmondson, Lee said, "Nothing can change."

Coaching milestones

Patterson coach Roger Wrenn and Edmondson's Pete Pompey, in their 29th and 30th football coaching seasons, respectively, should each surpass 200 career victories this fall. Wrenn is 199-89-2 and Pompey, 197-93-1.

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