Local student-athletes have worked up a sweat over the past week as they returned to practice ahead of the start of the fall sports season. Of course, if you ask them if it’s from the workout or the ongoing heatwave, that’s up for debate.
In July, Williamsburg had 19 days where the temperature was above 90 degrees, three days shy of the record of 22. With August temperatures promising more of the same, staying cool and hydrated is more critical than ever — and coaches are getting creative in how to work around the heat.
“We keep a close eye out for any signs of overheating or dehydration, safety and wellness are important,” Lafayette athletic director Kyle Neve said. “We’ve also made sure all practices are either indoors or held early in the morning or late in the evening.
They’ve also come up with a few creative solutions.
One example is Lafayette football practices — not only are they held later in the evening, but almost entirely in the shade or under tree cover until the sun starts setting.
Even the players who practice indoors don’t have it too easy, according to Charlie Burgess, junior, Lafayette volleyball player.
“Sometimes the air conditioning isn’t on the gym, and of course it gets a little hot,” Burgess said. “We still play hard and put the work in, no matter how much we’re sweating.”
The heat’s also been a challenge for conditioning and training over the summer for some local athletes. Even the most driven athlete can find working out daunting when it’s almost 100 degrees outside.
“Summer’s already kind of hard because you are in that mode where you want to relax, and even when you head out to run or go to the gym, just a few steps outside can make putting that off tempting,” Burgess said. “That’s part of why we come back in August though, to get back in that rhythm.”
Others, like Jamestown senior Sydney Paul, said the heat hasn’t dulled her excitement in the slightest.
The captain of the field hockey team, last year she broke her knee five games into the season, so she’s thrilled to be back on the field again.
“Last year I had to spend so much time watching other people play, I’m happy to be able to go back out there, the weather doesn’t change that,” she said. “It helps that we’re out every morning from six to eight or so when it’s not too bad, but it wouldn’t matter if it was at noon, I’d be out here, we all would be.”
Of course, even with field hockey practices held in the early morning, the coaches keep an eye on conditions and players, according to Warhill coach Kristen Boykin.
“One of those things you have to be aware of is that it can be 10 degrees warmer on the turf, so we keep our eyes on conditions,” Boykin said. “Still, the girls are out here every morning, and we still play games in this kind of weather, so there has to be a balance between conditioning and overexerting themselves.”
Sean CW Korsgaard can be reached at 757-968-1529, by email firstname.lastname@example.org, and on Twitter @SCWKorsgaard.