Over the next few weeks, football players, cheerleaders and band members will be out in the scorching heat getting ready for their respective seasons.
From the professionals all the way down to the little 5-year olds, folks are set to hit the practice fields around the state and country. (ASIDE: The Mighty Smyrna Spartans of the Northwest Georgia Youth Football League, ages 5 to 12, start practice next Monday, July 26.)
For the second season, Falcons head coach Mike Smith and his lovely wife, Julie have partnered with Gatorade in a “Beat the Heat” campaign designed to warn parents and athletes about heat related issues.
The Smiths want folks to remember “the four Ps” to help them beat the heat. Plan, Prevent, Prepare and Proper hydration (drinks lots of Gatorade).
“I think one big thing is that you don’t ever wait to be thirsty,” Julie Smith said. “You don’t want to wait and say, ‘hey I’m thirsty.’ At that point, you are starting to go ahead and dehydrate. So you really just want to go ahead and drink before you get thirsty.”
According to the 2008 Report on Football Injuries, 33 football players have died from heat stroke since 1995, and the
National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury says heat stroke is the third leading cause of death among athletes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 300 people die each year from heat-related illnesses.
During the Falcons training camp, which starts on July 29 when the players report, Smith plans to continue the habit of stopping practices to order the team into a cool zone, under a tent. The players will get breaks from the heat and a chance to rehydrate.
Also, the Falcons emphasize that their players hydrate before hitting the field. There are refrigerators with beverages in all of the meeting rooms for their convenience.
The Smiths are encouraging coaches, athletes and parents to download a heat safety kit from www.NFL.Com/trainingcamp. For each kit downloaded, Gatorade will make a donation to the Kendrick
Fincher Foundation and the Stringer Foundation.
The Fincher foundation was founded by Mike and Rhonda Fincher in memory of their son Kendrick, who died from complications from heat stroke in 1995.
The Stringer Foundation was founded in memory of former NFL star Korey Stringer, who died from heat stroke in 2001.
“We make our guys weigh-in before practice and weigh-out,” Mike Smith said. “If they lose too much weight, we can’t send them back out on the field the next time. . . if you are a cheerleader or in band camp or wherever and you’re out there sweating, you need to make sure that you don’t lose 3 percent or more of your body weight. If you do, then you need to make sure that you don’t go out and participate the next day. Those are things that need to be apart of the plan in the four Ps.”