Football season is quickly approaching, but with local forecasts predicting temperatures nearing 100 degrees, football coaches are having to adjust their schedules accordingly.
Last Monday afternoon, the Cherokee County School District informed all schools that all outdoor activities would be prohibited from noon until 6 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday of last week. The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for Tuesday evening, and predicted heat index reaching over 100 degrees for Monday and Tuesday of this week. While the heat index measures temperature and relative humidity in shaded areas, the Georgia High School Association uses the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature to outline its athletic rules and regulations once outdoor practices resume. The WBGT differs from the heat index in that it measures temperature, humidity, wind speed, solar radiation and is measured in direct sunlight.
Cherokee High School football coach Josh Shaw said he was informed of the county-wide decision last Monday, and as a result the team ran both a practice session and film study in the school gymnasium.
“Today we’re just gonna try to make the best of the situation,” Shaw said. “Obviously safety is a huge concern. We had a staff meeting on Sunday and were kind of proactive about it. We’re going to practice in the morning on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. The kids would practice in the morning every time if they could, they love it.”
Woodstock High School coach Brent Budde also acted preemptively this weekend with regards to Tuesday’s practice.
“I had already made the decision that we were going to practice in the morning on Tuesday,” Budde said. “I made that call on Sunday after seeing the forecast.”
The Wolverines practice on Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. and Budde said the team typically will run its game week walk-through practice on Thursday mornings as well. With Woodstock’s season opener at home against North Cobb less than two weeks away, Budde said the shift in practice schedule is actually a positive.
“Is it a challenge? Yes, but I think it’s a good challenge because you have to adapt,” Budde said.
Shaw said the Warriors’ normal midseason practice schedule includes a Wednesday morning practice. Beyond adjusting the weekly practice schedule, both Shaw and Budde recognized the challenges of educating their players on proper hydration and nutrition in order to properly prepare to practice and play in the mid-August heat.
“We talk to the team about being prepared,” Budde said. “We talk to them about having a water jug with them during the day, and making sure they’re planning their day out as far when they’re eating their meals. It’s just like football, if you don’t prepare beforehand you’re not setting yourself up for success.”
Shaw said his players are given a pint of chocolate milk every morning after workouts, and said he and his staff educate their players as much as possible on the importance of proper hydration. On days where the team practices in the afternoon, an adjusted practice schedule allows the Warriors to get their work in more quickly.
“They’re teenagers, so of course sometimes you have to tell them to eat and drink,” Shaw said. “I try to have our training staff and coaches educate our players as much as possible. We’ve kind of changed our practices this year too. It’s more uptempo, but we’ve shortened it, and we’re in and out pretty quick.”
Cherokee scrimmaged Friday at Creekview and will play at 7:30 p.m. at home on Aug. 23 against North Forsyth in its season opener.