New heat guidelines for Texas student athletes
SHERMAN, Texas (KTEN) — When the calendar flips to August, the heat has been in Texoma for awhile... but high school athletes are just kicking off their fall sports seasons.
And while coaches are focused on making sure they're ready to beat their Week 1 opponent, they also have to make sure they're helping their young athletes beat the heat every day.
Athletes are trained to put out maximum effort when they start to sweat; after all, pushing yourself is part of the deal, which means it's up to coaches and the University Interscholastic League to keep these kids from pushing past their limits, especially in triple-digit temperatures.
"It's something we take into account every day," said Denison Yellow Jackets head coach Brent Whitson. "We've got to get work done. You modify what you're doing, how often you're doing it, and maybe what you wear when you're doing it."
In the past, UIL guidelines were based on heat index values, which take air temperature and humidity into account. The problem with that? Heat index values are normally measured in the shade.
"We are currently using the heat index, and based off the heat index we will shorten practices, give unlimited water breaks, and even move into our indoor facility," said Sherman Bearcats Athletic Director Jeff Cordell. "There's a lot of different measures that we take into place."
UIL officials are taking a step out of the shade and mandating that all schools have a wet bulb globe temperature device on campus in order to give athletic directors the most accurate data possible to monitor the safety of their student athletes.
This new device will factor in temperature, humidity, winds, sun angle, and cloud cover.
"They've tightened up some of the things with regard to how you measure wet bulb temperature and what its effect is," Whitson said.
"We think it's a very positive move on behalf of the new UIL with regards to protecting our student athletes — whether it's our student athletes or people that are marching in band — whoever's outside, I think it's a great mandate by the UIL," Cordell added.
Both Sherman and Denison's athletic directors hope these new protocols will help keep all of their student athletes healthy before the two teams meet in 14 days for the 125th Battle of the Ax at Bearcat Stadium.