GILBERT, Ariz. -- The summer heat is a big challenge for high school football players.
The combination of sweating, wearing heavy football pads and helmets, and running around can be a recipe for dehydration on the field.
At Gilbert High School, the football players know how to handle high temperatures throughout the day and at practice so they can play even when it’s hot outside.
“Our coach requires us to walk around school with gallons of water to make sure we stay hydrated all day so we don’t get dehydrated out there in the heat,” said August Aiono, a senior football player at Gilbert High School.
Head Coach Tim Rutt weans his players onto the field to get them accustomed to playing in the heat. He breaks them in during their first ten days by having them wear just helmets for three days, then adding on shoulder pads the following days. Players also get breaks and are urged to drink plenty of water.
“It’s pretty tiresome on the kids’ part as far as conditioning and stuff,” said Lester Griffith, a player’s father. “It’s been tough, but they’ve been doing pretty good. They have a good coach and he’s got a good system.”
The freshman team has been waking up early so they don’t have to practice in the extreme heat all the time. They attend some morning practices from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 or 9:00 a.m., and then go to class.
Trainers are on hand for all freshman games and doctors are on standby for JV and varsity games if needed.
“Sometimes I wish we had a little bit nicer weather, but we don’t. We live in Arizona, we live in a desert,” Aiono said.