Heat IllnessPreventionSecondary School

Waxahachie’s AT David “Doc” Bowdoin featured in article about heat illness


Heat IllnessPreventionSecondary School

Waxahachie’s AT David “Doc” Bowdoin featured in article about heat illness

Bowdoin has worked in sports medicine the last 24 years and has been the athletic trainer at Waxahachie for 21 of those years.

Temperatures nearing triple digits, seldom cloud coverage, and long days. There isn’t a better time to be outside.

Most kids in high school are probably spending their summers inside where air conditioning is on full blast.

But for athletes on the Waxahachie football team, a typical day consists of morning workouts at the gym followed by conditioning that takes them outside where two-a-days start in a few weeks.

As it stands, football players have a grace period between spring training and the first day of official practices, which is the second Monday in August, per UIL mandate.

Coaches are not allowed to hold practices during the summer, leaving off-season training up to the athletes between May and August.

And although athletes might not like working out in the summer because of the heat, maybe instead they should embrace it, said David “Doc” Bowdoin, Waxahachie’s head athletic trainer.

“When you’re talking about heat, you’re not going to get away from it in Texas unless you get an El Niño season when it’s cooler,” Bowdoin said. “And you’re going to play in it. When we go to Midlothian, we’re going to be sitting in a hole. And on that turf, it’ll probably be 115 degrees at game time. Maybe more.”

Waxahachie opens its season at Midlothian on Aug. 28 and unlike Lumpkins Stadium, the field at Midlothian’s Multi-Purpose Stadium was built beneath the ground, making it hotter during the summertime.

But if the players at Waxahachie become as used to the heat as they should, said Bowdoin, then there won’t be any health issues come game day.

“I truly believe that you have to get those kids exposed out there. Because that’s what they’re going to be playing in,” Bowdoin said. “You have to get them out there in it, but you have to be careful. Have to be real careful.”

Heat illnesses aren’t uncommon for football players, especially those in Texas where temperatures typically reach the high 90s and stay there for the duration of the summer.

That’s why Bowdoin and Indians head coach Jon Kitna take no exception to stressing the importance of heat awareness to athletes and parents.

At a recent parent player meeting, Kitna highlighted three of the four heat related disorders: cramps, syncope, and exhaustion. Heat stroke is the final stage of a disorder and can result in death as the body stops secreting sweat to cool itself down, Bowdoin said.

Waxahachie’s goal is to avoid the final stage at all costs, which is why Kitna and Bowdoin emphasize the other three disorders with the intent to get high school athletes to understand just how vital it is to drink fluids and eat, especially in the summer.

“The heat isn’t going anywhere. It’s not disappearing at all,” Bowdoin said. “The cramps and stuff that you see during games, we can deal with that. What you don’t want is to get them so bad where they’re nauseous, vomiting, in-and-out of consciences, stuff like that because then that tells you they’re so depleted, they’ve lost so much fluid and stuff that their body doesn’t want to do it anymore and that’s when you have to make a decision.”

As severe as some of the symptoms are for heat illnesses, Bowdoin said it’s still difficult to teach athletes the importance of taking precautions and bracing yourself for working out in the heat.

Bowdoin has worked in sports medicine the last 24 years and has been the athletic trainer at Waxahachie for 21 of those years.

He’s seen it all when it comes to high school athletes working out in the summer.

Since beginning his career at Texas Christian University, he’s also seen the changing influence PlayStation’s and Xbox’s have had on students.

“They want to stay inside and play their video games and that’s cool, but when I was growing up we were outside all the time. We were used to it,” Bowdoin said. “The dynamics have changed in society.”

PlayStation, however, isn’t the only thing that’s changed since Bowdoin was a trainer for the Horned Frogs.

He’s also seen technology improve and how different medical practices are more beneficial today.

“In the old days, you fill up an ice tub full of cold water, no matter how cold it is, and you dunk them in it. That’s not good,” Bowdoin said. “We’ve learned now that if we do that with a kid that’s having some problems with heat illness, the later stages maybe or in between stages, you send the body into shock and you drive the heat that’s inside their body further down and it damages their organs. Our answer to that is cool water, not just cold cold cold water.”

In addition to changing treatment methods, Bowdoin also said teams have adjusted their workouts so athletes can respond better to the heat.

“Instead of just running wind sprints back in the old school days where you run 100 yards and turn around and run another 100 yards, the coaches do some things like dynamic stretching and dynamic ballistic stretching,” he said. “They do different types of conditioning. We’ve got a lot smarter with that.”

Given Waxahachie’s new direction on offense and defense, the Indians will rely heavily on their speed, which comes from conditioning, Bowdoin said.

Kitna and the coaching staff have been implementing a spread offense, similar to what Baylor University runs and plan to go without huddling this season.

The increase in pace could be a toll on the player’s, but the goal for the team is to suffocate each of their opponents based on their speed, Bowdoin said.

“You have to be in shape. It’s a necessity based on upon what we want to do,” he said.