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Penn-Trafford 'disappointed' about PIAA's decision on heat acclimatization plan

| Monday, Aug. 5, 2013, 9:33 a.m.

Penn-Trafford is “going to Plan B” after the PIAA denied its appeal of when the football team could begin its three-day heat acclimatization process this month.

PIAA officials rejected Penn-Trafford's appeal last week. The district requested to begin the heat acclimatization process Aug. 10 and complete it Aug. 12, the day fall sports practices begin.

In an exchange of phone calls between PIAA executive director Robert Lombardi and Penn-Trafford school officials, Lombardi said completing the acclimatization Aug. 10-12 would be violation of PIAA rules.

The policy states that the process must be completed in three consecutive days and must begin either Aug. 12 or Aug. 7-8. The heat acclimatization policy requires schools to go through a three-day adjustment period before regular practices can begin.

Penn-Trafford now will begin the acclimatization process Aug. 12.

“We're very disappointed,” Penn-Trafford athletic director Kerry Hetrick said of the PIAA's decision. “But we play by the rules and by the book, so if we're told we can't do it, we turn the page and we'll do the other thing.

“Everybody's in the same boat this year. Nobody's at an advantage over anybody. We certainly weren't looking for one. We were just trying to look for a way to put our kids in the best position on and off the field. From a safety perspective, we thought it was an outstanding option for them.”

PIAA officials said Penn-Trafford would violate the state's six-day practice rule by holding its acclimatization process Aug. 10-12 and playing a scrimmage Aug. 17. The six-day rule requires teams to take one day off from practices or games in a calendar week.

The heat acclimatization process counts as a practice.

“If they didn't want to scrimmage on (Aug. 17), then they could do what they're proposing and practice Saturday to Thursday,” Lombardi said.

“But they would have to take Saturday off and wouldn't be able to scrimmage.”

However, Hetrick said Penn-Trafford planned to take a day off Aug. 16, the day before its scheduled scrimmage against Plum.

“We wouldn't have gone seven straight days,” Hetrick said.

Hetrick said the district worked diligently to put together a heat acclimatization proposal that worked for all parties — players, coaches, parents and school medical officials. Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane met with parents and players after the acclimatization policy was passed in March, and administrators met with the athletic training department to put together the plan.

Hetrick was told about the problem with the district's proposal after running it by the PIAA.

“Taking all sides of the spectrum, which we did, from involvement with the parents, the kids (and) sports medicine, we felt that our plan was A-plus and that it worked best for all the kids and put them in the best situation that they could be on the field in getting heat acclimated and ready for the year,” Hetrick said.

While Hetrick said district officials were disappointed with the decision, he said Penn-Trafford would ultimately “turn the page.”

“We don't want any hard feelings with anybody or anything like that,” he said. “we wanted a fair decision, and if that's the decision that they made, then we have to live with it and we'll turn the page. But I still feel that our plan was putting our kids in a great position — physically, mentally and safely — going into the season.

“Safety is the main concern first, and it always is. I can't tell you enough that I think our group of athletic trainers is second to none, and we were all on board with this.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib. PennLive.com staff writer John Tuscano contributed to this story.

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