Football players working to beat the heat during after-school practices

Hydration stations, cold water immersion tubs set up at all Duval County schools

By Corley Peel - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Student-athletes are battling the high temperatures during after-school practices. 

Under the scorching sun, high school football players in Duval County are practicing in a heat index of more than 110 degrees 

That's why Duval County Public Schools is making sure football teams are staying cool. 

"It’s hot, but you’ve got to get the work in somehow, so you just got to live with it," said Zaiire Gatling, a running back on the junior varsity football team at Sandalwood High School.

His mother, Tanikia Gatling, said as soon as the school bell rings to signal the end of classes about 2 p.m., the players start practicing.

"My concern is that I’m praying that nobody will fall or pass out," she said. 

Duval County Public Schools photo of hydration station

Hydration stations and cold water immersion tubs are set up at all schools in Duval County, according to a district spokesperson. Some also have shaded tents.

"Our team is pretty well conditioned and stuff, so there’s not that many people struggling in the heat," Gatling said. 

The Sandalwood High athletic trainer said they increased water breaks to every 15 minutes once the wet-bulb thermometer gets past 82. That measures the ability of a student-athlete to cool down. The higher the number, the harder it is to cool down.

It reached up to 85.6 at 5 p.m. Tuesday. 

“I’m drinking plenty of water," Gatling said. "Stay cool, just take my helmet off when I get a break when I can.”

With some games starting as early as 1 p.m. this football season, the temperatures are expected to be high. 

Gatling said it may be hot outside, but he’ll still bring the heat on the field. 

The trainer for Sandalwood High told News4Jax that if the temperature is too hot outside, game times could be pushed back. She said there's a possibility of that happening once the temperature gets above 90 degrees. 

Duval County Public Schools

The photos in this story were provided by Duval County Public Schools.

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