‘A kids life is more important than winning a football game’: Nebraska high school coaches discuss practicing in extreme heat

SOUTHEAST NEBRASKA - A stretch of hot days has once again descended on the Cornhusker state. This time, it comes right before the kick off of high school football.

“Are we going to cancel a game because of heat? Probably not, unless it’s extreme,” Pawnee City assistant coach Mason Amundson said.

Pawnee City, and other area schools, are continuing to practice this week despite the heat.

“It’s tough, it’s hard, we give them water breaks every 15 minutes to try and beat it,” Amundson said. “We did helmets only yesterday because of the heat and we’ve tried to shorten practice as much as we can.”

While Pawnee City practices in the afternoon, Southern head coach Kane Hookstra has his team practicing in the evening.

“We want to keep kids protected from the heat. We feel we get better effort and obviously we play in the evening, so it gets them adjusted to that time,” Hookstra said. “But, it’s definitely because of the heat and for safety reasons.”

High school coaches are trained on how to respond for heat exhaustion prior to the season, so they are prepared if a player begins to falter. They also will call 911 if needed.

“The quickest thing is to get them fluids, get them to a colder area, get their pads off, get ice packs on their hands and feet,” Amundson said. “We’re going to call 911 if we need to, we’re not afraid to, because a kids life is more important than winning a football game.”

Hookstra emphasizes hydration, not only at practice, but in the hours leading up to it.

“We encourage kids to hydrate throughout the day,” Hookstra said. “Take a water bottle to class, get a drink before classes.”