Josie Howell, Sports Editor
Living in Alabama, it is no secret that there are hot summers. With record heat indexes in Alabama, the summer of 2019 has been the hottest summer that some, if not all of us, have witnessed in our lifetime. Throw the unbearable humidity into the equation and the results make it impossible for anyone to even want to step foot outside. Nonetheless, the Gamecocks who play fall sports don’t have a choice. This goes specifically for the football team, the soccer team and the men’s and women’s cross-country team. Although these are well-trained athletes, it can be easy for the heat to slow them down.
“The heat definitely makes running more difficult for the team as a whole, but personally, I’m used it to after doing 3 years of 4:00 PM practices during the summer.” said Corey Champion, a JSU Cross-Country runner. “We have taken extra steps to prevent heat related illnesses by doing our workouts in the morning and moving the easy runs to the afternoon. Running at 6 a.m. allows us to get more quality in our runs and definitely feel a lot fresher which helps physically and mentally. For the afternoon runs, we definitely add in more water breaks than usual.The heat makes even easy runs in the afternoon a little exhausting. When you’re doing 10-12 miles a day it’s already tough on your body and adding the heat we’ve experienced lately definitely makes it more exhausting.”
JSU linebacker Jalen Choice, expressed that he does not feel as though the heat this summer has slowed down his team during practices.
“I don’t think the heat makes it harder to practice, because we have to endure the heat on game days, so I feel like we are in good spirits every day we take the field because we know it’s something we can’t change.” said Choice. “I don’t feel like the heat has ever slowed us down! We embrace the heat! We don’t let the temperature define how we are going to play. We are always going to play Gamecock football no matter the condition!”
Choice goes on to say that even though the gamecocks embrace the heat, they still take extra steps to prevent heat related illnesses such as having treatment during the day and taking more water breaks than they would on a less hot day.
Emma Meadows, a JSU soccer player, has also had to endure the heat during preseason practices. She emphasizes that while it can be hard no matter how long you have played the game, it is something that she has gotten used to. Meadows said the team makes sure that they have very frequent water breaks because in such extreme heat, you can’t run for more than 10 minutes.
“Our athletic trainers are also really good about making sure we’re hydrated and they make us take these salt pills or packages that help us too,” said Meadows. “The heat has for sure slowed me down, it really makes you feel it in your legs and sometimes they feel like concrete. Also, it’s harder to break, the air just feels really thick and heavy.”
The main concern that athletes often face when practicing in such extreme conditions are the following: heat rash, sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. It is important to be on the lookout for heat stroke, the most serious of the possible heat related illnesses
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the possible symptoms of heat stroke are the following: a body temperature of 103 or higher, hot red, dry or damp skin, a fast, strong pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and loss of consciousness. While these are mostly apparent symptoms, it is important to take them seriously when they do occur.
Preventative measures are taken by the team and staff to protect the athletes and avoid such conditions. Some of these measures include drinking more water than usual, wearing light and loose clothing, pacing activity and reapplying sunscreen as often as needed. The Tennessee Secondary School Athletics Association (TSSAA) recommends a mandatory water break every 30 minutes for a 10-minute duration for any heat index higher than 95 degrees. More importantly, the TSSAA recommends that all outside activity stop at heat indexes higher than 105 degrees, which has taken place multiple times in Jacksonville this summer.
Photo courtesy of JSU