Area football teams lined up Wednesday for the first day of practice for the 2013 football season. They were greeted with new safety regulations which have been put into place to better insure their safety from heat stroke or other health issues.
Most coaches found it ironic the first year these new policies are being implemented the temperatures were just in the 60s when camps opened up.
The new regulations come in place a year after Hall junior Daniel Lule collapsed on the first day of practice and later died. An autopsy showed the Hall youth to have an enlarged heart.
The New York Daily News reported there was an average of 12 deaths of high school and college football players a year from July 1990 to June 2010. Of the 243 deaths, 38 were from heat-related causes, according to the American Journal of Sports Medicine. One hundred deaths were attributed to underlying heart conditions like Lule’s and 62 were of the result of a brain injury.
“I know it’s happened in other places, so they’re looking at more and trying to figure out the solution,” second-year Hall coach Randy Tieman said. “What happened last year wasn’t a heat thing, it’s just what he had. It was 75 degrees and no heat.”
Tieman said he understands what the IHSA is trying to do, but is not sure this is the answer.
Previously, coaches could practice for as long and often as they wanted with no limitations enforced, many adopting the old-school, tough-guy approach.
Under the new guidelines, teams are now limited to three hours of practices for the first five days. This includes all warm-up, stretching and cool-down times and weight-lifting.
A one-hour walk-through is permitted in addition to practice time, but a minimum of a two-hours recovery period must be inserted between the practices and walk-through.
A walk-through is defined by the IHSA as a teaching opportunity with athletes not wearing protective equipment (helmets or shoulder pads). No running or running activities by team members is allowed and a football should not be used during the one hour walk through. The walk-through does not include conditioning or weight room activities.
Only helmets may be utilized for the first two days with shoulder pads added for the next three. Full pads with full contact is not allowed until the sixth day, two days later than before.
On that sixth day with full pads, teams may be allowed five hours for practice with not one session exceeding three hours. There must be two hours of rest between. However, any day incorporating five hours of practice time must be followed by a three-hour session. However, with school starting up, coaches will be limited to getting five hours in.
At Bureau Valley: Storm coach Jeff Ohlson said the new regulations will only have a mild affect to the Storm’s preseason practices. Wednesday morning’s session was devoted to offense and Ohlson planned to run the defense at night. Normally, he would split a two-hour session evenly between the two.
The Storm were scheduled to practice from 8 to 9:30 a.m. and 6 to 7:30 p.m. for the first two days. On Friday, they will run from 7:30 to 9 a.m., take the required two-hour break in a cool environment, then come back from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
“The first day of contact has been moved back, so we will have to adjust to that, but everything else should be pretty much the same,” Ohlson said. “We lose about an hour a day with only have three hours the first five days, so we will need to be extremely organized and moving.”
The Storm had 55 players suited up Wednesday.
At Princeton: About the new policies, second-year Tiger coach Jesse Snyder said the IHSA “put them in place to keep our kids safe and that’s what our jobs should be as coaches.”
The Tigers will run double sessions, running from 7 to 8:30 a.m. and from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Snyder said he will also utilize walk-through and chalk-talk sessions.
The Tigers are operating out of their new practice facility at Little Siberia, the PHS property four blocks north of Bryant Field next to the softball field. The site includes a full length football field with about an extra 20 yards in the end zones and 10 yards to each side.
“It’s nice to have our own field. It gives us a home,” Snyder said. “You can practice efficiently.”
The youth football teams will also practice there and P.E. classes will be held there. the site has the potential for other future usages as PHS looks to the future.
Snyder expected to have 55 to 60 players in camp. Assistant coach Dan Foes said it was a great day to be alive.
At Hall: Tieman said the Red Devil staff has elected to run three-hour sessions, but have concerns of being able to keep the kids’ attention span for that long of a period.
“We’ll try to get as much out of it as we can. We talked about going 1 1/2, (but) you’re still bringing them back late at night,” Tieman said, noting the required two-hour break. “We haven’t had a three-hour practice that I can remember. Two and a half hours is the maximum I can remember.”
Hall will start practice at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and move to 3:15 p.m. Thursday on the first day of school. Tieman said the first conceivable day he could see running “doubles” would be the Saturday (Aug. 24) after the Red-White Scrimmage, but he’s not sure about the benefit of that.
At St. Bede: Academy athletic director Tom McGunnigal said the Bruins were slated to run for three hours starting at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Scrimmage nights: Princeton, Hall and Bureau Valley will all hold public scrimmage on Aug. 23 as well as fall sports introductions. The season kicks off a week later with Princeton traveling to Morrison, Amboy/LaMoille hosting St. Bede and Bureau Valley hosting Hall.