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As heat indexes rise, high school football teams promote safety first during practices

The summer heat can take a toll on athletes. Local high schools are making sure the right steps are taken to keep athletes safe.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In order to win in the fall, the Waggener Wildcats football team must first make it through some brutal practices in the summer. 

The coaching staff tasked with making sure the kids can pass for touchdowns without passing out, taking the pre-season practice to a higher degree. 

“We’ve been out here trying to get used to the heat and get our athletes prepared for our early season because it’s still pretty hot outside,” Head Coach Tye Lawson said.

Lawson is doing his part to make sure players don’t get sacked by the summer heat.

“We have scheduled breaks every 20 minutes, roughly, for water. We have ice towels that are available for kids and an ice bath just in case anyone gets to a point where we’re really concerned,” he said.

RELATED: Mother who lost son to heat stroke warns parents, athletes in light of emergency heat advisory

Trainer Josh Martoccio said he has only had to use the ice bath once in the last three years. The policies and procedures that are in place seem to be working, and keeping kids from overheating.

 “I always take it [hydrometer] where we are playing. I will measure the heat index every 30 minutes when it’s hot," Martoccio explained.  

"104 [degrees] is our cut off in Kentucky, so they can practice technically all the way up to that point at the different levels. They may have to take off pads. They may have to take off helmets. They have to have mandatory water breaks that last a certain amount of time,” Martoccio said.

RELATED: PRP football player returns to practice after being overcome by heat

The heat index in the Louisville area could reach 100 degrees on Tuesday and a dry July and early August hasn’t helped.

Though typical summer temperatures this team is used to tackling, the Waggener Wildcats will never have to hunt for hydration.

“Safety first, it’s more than just a game,” Lawson said.

Waggener has already had to cancel practice twice this season because of the heat index going above the 104 degree cut-off.

They’re still able to condition while inside and prepare for the season.

► Contact reporter Heather Fountaine at hfountaine@whas11.com and follow her on Twitter (@WHAS11Heather) and Facebook.  

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