Mt. Pleasant, other area teams begin PIAA-mandated acclimatization period
Throughout the course of the summer, high school football teams do their best to prepare for the season.
Many teams take advantage of summer conditioning and weightlifting sessions and opt to participate in various seven-on-seven events throughout the area.
One thing that is not optional for any team in Pennsylvania, however, is the PIAA-mandated heat acclimatization period.
Started in 2013, the heat acclimatization period is designed to get players on the field in the summer heat wearing helmets and shoulder pads. One of the goals of the heat acclimatization period is to allow players to make a smooth transition into practices with full pads, which begin next week.
The first day heat acclimatization was allowed to begin was Monday.
This year, the heat acclimatization period was lengthened from three days to five. In order for players to practice in full pads next week, they must complete at least three consecutive days of practice during the heat acclimatization period.
Throughout the rest of this week, teams cannot be on the field more than five hours a day. However, teams must practice a minimum of three hours each day in order to satisfy the heat acclimatization requirements.
Mt. Pleasant coach Bo Ruffner noted his team is simply trying to take advantage of the extra time spent on the field leading into the first official week of practice.
“We never practice for three hours, so that is different for us, and it's really a long time for us,” Ruffner said. “It's what the state mandates us to do. We try to get all three phases in during those three hours.”
While being on the field for three hours at a time might be different, Ruffner sees some benefits.
“It gets the kids used to wearing equipment, and hopefully, that will lead us into next week,” Ruffner said. “We just try to use it as a week to work on fundamentals and getting used to having pads on.”
Frazier coach Mike Steeber and his staff use the heat acclimatization period as a continuation of summer workouts. However, he noted the players are made aware of using safeguards to prevent heat-related health issues.
“We remind them to stay hydrated and watch what they eat and speak up if they are having any problems,” Steeber said.
Steeber also believes the five days of heat acclimatization can ease the transition into next week's full-scale practices.
“It balances out our schedule a little bit,” Steeber said. “It's five days of mandatory work (this week), so it might lighten up next week in terms of the schedule.”
According to Connellsville coach Dave McDonald, the heat acclimatization is just another step toward the season, with one notable exception.
“Teams have been doing this stuff all summer long,” McDonald said. “But now the kids have to be there, and that's a nice thing.”
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.