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A Love-Heat Relationship With Texas

How High Temperatures are Affecting Student Programs
Leaning+back+on+her+right%2C+varsity+tennis+member+junior+Mia+Petty+prepares+to+receive+the+ball+with+the+traditional+racket+swing.+For+student+athletes%2C+the+heat+has+caused+many+changes+to+previously+created+habits+involved+in+sport+practices%2C+but+it+can+also+be+a+tool%2C+according+to+Petty.+The+heat+is+definitely+annoying%2C+Petty+said.+There+are+so+many+things+that+you+have+to+do+to+avoid+exhaustion+and+it+feels+excessive+at+times.+%5BHowever%5D%2C+I+think+the+heat+further+encourages+me+to+get+outside.+%5BI+want+to%5D+be+exposed+to+the+heat+as+much+as+possible+so+I+can+better+acclimate+to+being+hot+and+tired.
Natalia Saban
Leaning back on her right, varsity tennis member junior Mia Petty prepares to receive the ball with the traditional racket swing. For student athletes, the heat has caused many changes to previously created habits involved in sport practices, but it can also be a tool, according to Petty. “The heat is definitely annoying,” Petty said. “There are so many things that you have to do to avoid exhaustion and it feels excessive at times. [However], I think the heat further encourages me to get outside. [I want to] be exposed to the heat as much as possible so I can better acclimate to being hot and tired.”

As the thin red line of mercury rises on the thermometer, the competition grows as fall outdoor activities begin. For students, practicing or competing in temperatures around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, sweat is a constant companion and water is their best friend as they face off against opponents or prepare for performances.

While the Leander ISD Athletic Department doesn’t have strict rules dealing with practice time in high temperatures, they do have a set of guidelines for athletic trainers and coaches to follow. Stated in these guidelines is the strong recommendation that any day with a heat index of over 85 is to be met with caution and temperatures reaching around 115 degrees and above are considered dangerous. These guidelines are established in order to provide safe environments for student-athletes participating in outdoor activities but can be a nuisance to follow while an athlete is in season, according to varsity tennis member and junior Mia Petty.

“Student safety is the most important and extreme heat can be unhealthy,” Petty said. “[However], placing a limit to how hot it can be can also cause several issues with scheduling and overall team performance if games are postponed or canceled. [Al]though playing in temperatures over 104 F is tough, it is possible, and knowing how many times we’ve played when it was above 104 F, it would be hard to make up [that] time if these practices [had been] canceled.”

Practicing Tuesday through Friday after school and performing during football games, the band has also felt the effects of the high temperatures according to associate director of the bands, Kendall Santos.

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“It has certainly been a challenge,” Santos said. “However the students have done a great job getting used to the heat as well as learning to be comfortable and performing through it. Our goal is to keep kids safe and hydrated, while also preparing them for the heat that they will be performing in at contests.”

Students are not allowed to rehearse without water, Santos said. To succeed in their goal of student safety, the band abides by the Leander ISD temperature guidelines for water breaks, and the amount of time that can be spent outside.

“[Water is] very important,” Santos said. “We have a ‘water cow’ that we bring outside to let the students keep their hats cool and put wet towels around their necks. We do extended water breaks throughout the rehearsal to help keep them cool as well.”

Another program affected by the heat is football, as teams engage in outdoor practices and Friday night games. Due to the high temperatures, LISD has pushed football games back 30 minutes the last two weeks to accommodate to the heat.

“The heat has some different effects on all players,” freshmen linebacker Hudson Komendera said. “For me it pushes me harder so that when it’s not burning, practice feels a lot easier.”

The football team hasn’t adjusted practices much because of the heat, according to Komendera. The team is able to get water between drills and trainers are on the field with water bottles.

“Without any water, there is no chance any player would make it through practice each day,” Komendera said. “[The heat is] annoying because of the amount of water we need; [the heat] make[s] me feel dry and stiff. Even with proper hydration the day before, it won’t be enough for the whole practice.”

While the heat has caused many changes to previously created habits involved in sport practices, it can also be a tool, according to Petty.

“The heat is definitely annoying,” Petty said. “There are so many things that you have to do to avoid exhaustion and it feels excessive at times. [However], I think the heat further encourages me to get outside. [I want to] be exposed to the heat as much as possible so I can better acclimate to being hot and tired.”

To find more information on how the school district is battling the heat and keeping the athletes safe, students and parents can view their website or contact individual coaches and directors to learn more about their specific heat protocols.

This story was originally published on Wolfpack on September 14, 2023.