High school football players given mandate to face the heat
By Matt Grubba
Published: Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, 12:06 a.m.
Monday morning is the official start for high school football camps around Pennsylvania, but this year teams already have had an official task to finish.
For the first time this year, the PIAA mandated that high school football players complete a three-day heat acclimatization period before the start of full practice. For teams in Armstrong County, last Wednesday through Friday was the popular time to complete the new requirements.
Players must complete three days of at least three hours each under the policy, during which they progress from wearing helmets and shoulder pads to donning full equipment. Players are prohibited from contact drills until completing the three days, and while local coaches recognize the importance of the new mandate, the requirements also created some minor inconveniences for teams.
“We usually go Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and we give the kids Friday off before camp begins,” Ford City coach John Bartolovic said. “This year, we went Wednesday, Thursday, Friday the last week because we had to.”
“It really hasn't changed much for us. The only hitch was on Thursday, we had to go three hours when we usually only go two,” Kittanning coach Frank Fabian said. “It's been business as usual for us. Essentially, what it means is mandatory practices start three days earlier.”
One concern coaches expressed when the policy was put into place was the prospect of losing players for the start of camp if they had yet to complete the three-day period. But even at Leechburg, the smallest school district in or partly in Armstrong County, players adjusted to the new regulations.
“Our kids were real good about it. We explained to them and to their parents that if they missed it, they wouldn't be able to start camp and there would be no guarantee they play in the first scrimmage,” Leechburg coach Mark George said. “We have 34 kids practicing and only three missed it, so we're going to start camp with 31.”
“I told our kids if they miss these days, they would only have one day of full contact (this week) on Thursday, and I wouldn't feel comfortable putting them in a scrimmage,” Fabian said. “We had a couple with vacations already planned, but we've had good attendance.”
Implementation of the new rule hasn't gone off without a hitch. For one, temperatures last Wednesday and Thursday topped out in the late 70s, which makes some question whether the requirement served its purpose.
And though liability concerns factor into the reason for having the heat acclimatization period, some coaches feel they've always taken steps to prevent heat-related illness among their players.
“We've always done our summer workouts where we start off lighter and then add more and more,” Bartolovic said. “That's always been successful for us, and we've never had any problems.
“This year, it was the heat. Last year, they added concussion tests that all the coaches had to take. I know they do all these things for safety, and that's important, but a little common sense goes a long way with a lot of it.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.