Huntsville Hospital athletic trainer Joseph Lemery has been preparing the Sparkman High School football team for its toughest opponent so far this year – the extreme heat.
Practice doesn’t officially start until August 1 and games are still a month away, but during Wednesday’s open workout, the sun’s rays showed no mercy on the Senators. Lemery had his playbook ready.
“Typically, we have unlimited water and we let them take their helmets off whenever,” he said. “We double our efforts under those circumstances.”
Lemery has worked with the Senators for more than a decade, so he can tell when a blitz is coming.
“It really helps in these situations to know the athletes,” he said. “I know these guys really well. I have a good personal relationship with most of them, so I can tell when they’re acting lethargic or something’s just not right.”
The symptoms Lemery is monitoring in the players are the same ones parents and guardians can spot in children.
“Flushed skin at first, and then cool clammy skin, labored breathing, and then if you get to a point where you know how to check for a pulse, if you feel a really rapid pulse and they’re acting lethargic that’s the body saying heat exhaustion is probably coming or something worse and it’s that time to get in some shade and start taking on lots of fluids,” he said.
Lemery also spends the off-season educating the players, and their parents, on the Xs and Os of staying healthy in the heat, which include proper hydration, nutrition and rest.
“We don’t take any chances,” he said. “I have children, too. It’s somebody’s baby, at the end of the day, so there’s no need to take chances because we give them every opportunity to come prepared, we give them the information and we hammer it home.”