Heat is on for the Pirates

Published 5:14 pm Monday, August 6, 2007

By By PETER WILLIAMS, Staff Writer
GREENVILLE — Virginia Tech may be the first game on the schedule, but right now Skip Holtz has an even bigger opponent on his mind.
The heat.
It’s not unusual to have players lose eight pounds a day or more in a single practice, the East Carolina University head football coach said Saturday. His job, and the job of medical personnel and trainers, is to make sure they can gain it back and remain healthy.
After Friday’s first practice, Holtz said the Pirates need to train in the heat because the season opener will be played at noon in Blacksburg, Va., less than a month from now. By Saturday, the Pirate skipper took a more cautionary tone.
The Pirates are not the only team dealing with the problem.
Football teams wage a constant battle each summer with heat and weight loss.
How many calories?
Heat-related illness is a prime concern this time of year.
In 1996 a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reported that heat-related deaths in middle and high school players spiked that year.
Every year, Fred Mueller compiles a list of boys who died playing or practicing football for the Annual Survey of Football Injuries.
Five football players ages 11 to 17 died of heat stroke in 2006 due to heat stress and seven other players had "heart-related" deaths that might or might not have been related to heat or exertion, the survey said in a story published by United Press International.
The trainer keeps a log that shows the percentage of weight loss among the team and provides it to Holtz daily. If he sees a player in trouble, he’ll talk with the appropriate coach and make sure the condition is monitored.