FSHS, LHS fall sports squads taking extra steps to beat the heat

photo by: Conner Becker/Journal-World

Outdoor fall sports practices, such as football, have been adjusted to beat the recent heat wave.

With sky-high temperatures rolling through town this week, Lawrence and Free State High fall sports practices are truly “fall” in name only. More than prepared to battle the humidity, both schools are taking measures to ensure athlete safety and team productivity.

Following a blistering hot weekend — which featured a heat index of 134 degrees Fahrenheit – this week saw those dangerous temperatures stick around and force after-school activities to think outside the box when it comes to fitting in practices.

Key to those decisions is a wet bulb globe temperature device, which KSHSAA provided to all 354 of its member schools a year ago to help gauge dangerous practice conditions.

Temperatures above 89.8 degrees Fahrenheit fall under the “black zone,” requiring all activities to cease until a cooler temperature is reached; between 87.9 and 89.7 degrees, activities must be limited to one hour, including four five-minute minute rest breaks.

“We had kids running in the hallways for their conditioning,” Jered Shaw, athletic director at FSHS, said. “It’s kind of been a ‘let’s figure this out and move forward the best we can’ kind of week.”

On Monday, Kansas City Public Schools announced it would be releasing all students early this week due to rising temperatures. Like many other schools taking similar precautions, FSHS and LHS have either canceled or adjusted most of their practices this week.

The LHS fall sports jamborees Thursday and Friday, which were slated to showcase eight programs – football, volleyball, boys soccer, cross country, gymnastics, girls golf, girls tennis and spirit squad – were all but canceled due to the heavy heat. Volleyball’s showcase is still slated for 4:30 p.m.

Across town, FSHS also has its share of issues. After fitting in the football team’s open scrimmage last weekend, Shaw said this week brought several challenges when it came to dealing with outdoor sports – most commonly location.

Thankfully, a couple of coaches were able to get ahead of the curve. FSHS cross-country coach Steve Heffernan scheduled pool workouts for his team to stay cool while fitting in necessary training ahead of the team’s first meet next week on Thursday.

At LHS, the cross-country team has moved practices up as early as 6 a.m.

“You want to be able to predict the best that you can, so you can schedule accordingly,” Shaw said. “It’s important for our student-athletes to get practice in, as well.”

Both schools are slated to open their regular-season fall sports schedules next week, with the Lawrence Golf Invitational at Lawrence Country Club on Monday at 1 p.m.


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