By GERRY STEELE
Of the Baker City Herald
Like almost every other amateur and professional coach preparing for the fall sports seasons, Baker coaches are concerned about keeping their players well hydrated during the warmer temperatures of August and September.
All coaches have had to become more aware of the symptoms of heatstroke during the practice sessions especially since the death of NFL star Korey Stringer at a practice Aug. 1.
Weve talked to the kids about supplements, said Baker football coach Shea Little.
We talked to them about considering supplements, maintaining good diets, and getting good hydration. We preach it every practice.
Little said by hydration he doesnt mean soda pop.
We dont want the kids just filling up on pop, hamburgers and fries, he said. They need to drink fruit juices, water and other liquids.
And, Little said, that doesnt mean to load up on liquids right before practice.
If they drink a lot just before practice theyre going to be waterlogged and vomit. They need to drink fluids throughout the day, he said.
Little said that during practice time on the field the Bulldogs take frequent water breaks.
I tell the kids that even if they arent thirsty to at least rinse their mouths out with water, he said.
Little said water and other fluids also are provided for the players during team meetings and other team functions.
And, as an added precaution, Little said, if a player becomes sick to his stomach during a practice, that player is pulled out of practice. Assistant coaches then monitor the player and keep him reasonably active on the sideline so that he doesnt stiffen up.
Baker soccer coach Bryan Tweit also has taken extra precautions at practice.
The players can get something to drink on a regular basis during practice, he said, pointing out two large coolers and a stack of paper cups.
Were real conscious about it, Tweit said. We make sure the players are hydrated every few minutes.
Tweit said Baker coaches met with athletic director John Birkmaier before practices began Aug. 20 to make sure all were aware of the need for added attention to the situation.
Baker volleyball coach Michele McCauley said frequent water breaks have always been incorporated into her practice plans.
We schedule several breaks during practice, and if a player asks to get a drink of water they usually can do it at that time, McCauley said. And, we did talk to the kids about it before practice began.
Heatstroke occurs when the body stops sweating, causing the body temperature to rise uncontrollably.
According to a University of North Carolina study, 19 college or high school athletes have died of complications associated with heat stroke since 1995, the most recent on July 25 in Gainesville, Fla.
And then came the Stringer tragedy. Stringer, an offensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, was the first National Football League player to die in training camp since J.V. Cain of the St. Louis Cardinals died of a heart attack in 1979.
Symptoms of heat stroke include dizziness, fatigue, lack of sweat, cramping, headaches, nausea and vomiting.
Factors that can lead to heat stroke are heat, weight, clothing and humidity.
The study said the best prevention for athletes is to stay away from carbonated beverages and to drink lots of water before, during and after practices. It also is important for players to request breaks when they feel symptoms occur.
The key for coaches who are required to have first aid training, and as of the 2002-03 school year, will be required to take an eight-hour certification class is to recognize when players are at their limit.