Roanoke Valley football camps practice safety in summer heat


ROANOKE, Va.- – The summer heat can have an effect on athletes. Many football camps are starting this week to get players in shape for the season. 

Players at Northside High School are getting back to the gridiron. The official football season hasn't started, but head coach Scott Fisher wants his players to be well-prepared before putting on the pads in the middle of summer. 

"We started hydrating them three or four days before we start at practice, even though it was raining this week. And then we give them plenty of breaks during practice. We have a couple water breaks, and they go on their own and the trainers are here, of course. Make sure we get their electrolytes in them," said Fisher. 

He also makes sure they're taken care of after practice as well.

"We track their weight in and weight out. After daily practice, we make sure they haven't lost more than 4 or 5 pounds. And if they have you made them stay here and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate," said Fisher. 

James Gills, a physician assistant at Carilion Institute for Orthopaedics and Neurosciences, said athletes need to listen to their bodies and watch closely for unusual symptoms when it comes to heat-related illnesses. 

"You can suffer from what is called heat exhaustion. Which is typically (like you are) truly feeling fatigue. You're exhausted and you have a mild increase in body temperature. A little more concerning would be a true heat stroke, which is when your body temperature reaches a certain threshold usually above 104 degrees," said Gills. 

Carilion also has athletic trainers contracted to work with the schools to help keep an out and provide better care in every situation. 

A University of Maine freshman from Virginia collapsed and died this week during a supervised light workout with the football team.

Coaches there are unaware of any medical conditions that might have contributed to his death.

Students in the Roanoke Valley must have a physical turned into the athletic director before they are allowed to play.

"We can't let them participate until they have a physical turn in. The athletic department does a good job of making sure that's regulated," said Fisher.

Gills also wanted to note family history is important when performing physical on players. 

"Gathering issues with cardiac or pulmonary history. That we need to be aware of and just checking the general regular motion strength and any joints they may be involved in their sport," said Gills. 

Sports teams like Northside High School Football also uses a device to check the heat index to determine if it's too hot for players to participate in practice or games. 

Click here for more info regarding heat illness safety.