High Schools Try to Keep Athletes Cool
Stillwater High School athletes are taking advantage of a mini water park set up next to the football field. There’s a misting station, cooling fans, and five gallon tubs of water. Paul Wilson plays on both sides of the ball for the Pioneers, defensive end and offensive guard, leaving him tired halfway through practice, but downright giddy to relax.
“Cooling stations? I’ve never seen this before, this is awesome,” said Wilson.
Up the road in Morrison though, a lone trainer carries around a couple water bottles. And it’s not that Morrison doesn’t pay attention to keeping student athletes hydrated and cool. In a small town, they don’t have the big pool of local businesses and boosters that Stillwater does. So both athletes and staff have to do a little more work.
“They got to do a little on their own of taking care of their bodies and we have to do a good job as coaches of monitoring them,” said Cory Bales.
Bales takes on the role of football coach, athletic director and teacher for Morrison High. Their booster club gave out about a tenth as much money as Stillwater’s $47,000 last year.
Stillwater head football coach Tucker Barnard sympathizes with Morrison’s situation.
“It’s a problem, and it’s a widespread problem, especially in the rural areas. They just don’t have the resources to have the people out here like we do, and it just puts that much more responsibility on the coaches,” said Barnard.
Stillwater has a full time trainer, eight student trainers, and even a doctor that regularly visits practice. The medical staff could practically form their own team.
“We’ve got two doctors out here tonight also. I don’t think there’s any more that we could do. We’ve got a station set up where we can get kids cooled down if we start seeing some symptoms. It couldn’t be a whole lot better than it is right now,” said Barnard.
Morrison’s staff couldn’t even fill out the kicking unit. The Wildcats have one trainer. The team will hold its first scrimmage Friday, a trial of player’s conditioning, but also a test for coaches to make sure no one ends up with an IV pumping fluids into their body. Coach Bales says he gives players enough water breaks, stopping practice every 20 to 25 minutes for a chance to hydrate. Despite his best efforts though, the fact remains. Morrison athletes have to deal with the heat just like Stillwater, there just aren’t as many eyes watching for signs of trouble.