It 10:30 in the morning and players on the Lamar High School football team are rehearsing their plays.
But there’s no football and the players aren’t running. That’s because they’re in the gym instead of out on the football field. With temperatures above 100 degrees this week, the team practices outside at 8 in the morning and then moves inside to the gym.
This is head Coach Tom Nowlen:
“The big thing is just getting used to the heat, because too many kids stay inside. Now that’s the big difference, say when I was a kid and we didn’t have much TV or video games, everybody was outside playing touch football, or football, or basketball, or something. A lot of these kids are inside in the air conditioning. And it’s just a big shock to your system.”
Junior receiver Bo Wells agrees with the coach, saying the heat isn’t that bad once you get used to it.
“It’s bad at first. But once you start doing stuff on your own like running and lifting weights on your own, you get used to it and you get acclimated to the heat.”
With Houston under a Heat Advisory, HISD has told all of its schools they can only practice outside before 10am and after 5pm.
But next door to Lamar is St John’s a private k-12 school that has its own rules. While Lamar was inside St. John’s was still on the field. St John’s head coach Steve Gleaves says the players are free to get water when they want and trainers keep a close eye on them.
“The toughest time we’ve gotta watch right now during two-a-days is the morning practice. The morning practice is the hottest, which is because it’s more humid and damp in the morning. The humidity starts going down as the afternoon goes, but also the heat goes up. But it’s really the heat index that you’re looking at.”
Dr. James Muntz is the team doctor for the Astros, Rockets and Texans. He says although accidents occasionally happen at school, trainers these days are well versed on the need to keep players hydrated.
“25 years ago, it was macho to not drink water, go as long as you could, kind of the more the merrier. I think everybody is on board with hydration, pulling people out, spraying people with the hose available, water available, cooling mechanisms available.”
Coach Nowlen at Lamar says often times when a player does feel bad, it’s not even related to the heat.
“When they feel a little woozy or sick hell, it’s because they haven’t eaten any breakfast. They need something in their stomach.”
Nolen has been coaching more than 25 years and remembers the days when drinking too much water meant you weren’t being tough. But he says things have changed, and everyone’s a lot smarter now — including himself.