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In an effort to continue its emphasis of student-athlete safety, the Florida High School Athletic Association imposed stricter rules on the length and structure of practices last year.
Despite the revised policy, heat-related illnesses remain a concern.
On Wednesday, a 14-year-old Sebastian River High School football player died after collapsing during a practice at his team's football camp. In a 911 recording, a coach reported that William Shogran Jr. needed medical assistance for a "heat injury." The exact cause of death has not been confirmed.
Shogran was the son of Florida Highway Patrol Trooper William Shogran.
The tragedy is a reminder of the importance of staying hydrated in the hot and humid Florida climate.
"Hydration is our No. 1 priority," Suncoast coach Jimmy Clark said. "It comes before the X s and O s. It takes time away from practice, but this is South Florida and we just have to give them water."
According to Dr. Scott McFarland, who is the emergency room medical director at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, Florida residents need to drink eight to 10 glasses of water per day. For every 30 minutes a person is outside, they must drink an additional 12 ounces.
"Coaches need to be a little more sensitive and players need to be a little more willing to speak up when they begin to have symptoms," McFarland said.
Clark said he gives his team water breaks after each practice period. The longest period lasts 20 minutes.
Dwyer coach Jack Daniels takes a similar approach, allowing for water breaks every 15 minutes throughout practice. If a player needs water in between those times, they are free to step away to hydrate.
Daniels has a player on his team that requires special attention when it comes to hydration. Dwyer running back Erick Hardnett suffers from rhabdomyolysis, which is a breakdown of muscle tissue that leads to the release of muscle fiber contents into the blood and could cause kidney damage.
Hardnett was held out of spring practice and has not participated in a fall practice yet because of the condition. According to Daniels, Hardnett "knows he has to drink extra water" because of the ailment.
"Our coaches are very receptive," Daniels said. "The last thing you want is what happened at Sebastian River. You want your kids to be tough, but my God, it's high school football. You don't want anything bad to happen to any of these kids."
Overhydration is another issue coaches must monitor.
On Monday, a 17-year-old high school football player in Georgia was diagnosed with water intoxication after he consumed four gallons of liquid during a practice. The excess fluid flooded the player's brain, as he was declared brain dead and was later removed from life support.
"That situation that happened in Georgia is beyond a tragedy," Clark said. "That never happens. Overhydration is something that we'll mention now, but our top priority is to keep our kids hydrated."
While not as common as dehydration, overhydration does happen. A woman, who competed in a radio station's contest to see how much water she could drink without going to the bathroom, died of water intoxication in Sacramento, Calif., in 2007.
Last week, a 16-year-old in Pennsylvania died from a benign heat tumor after collapsing during football practice.
The FHSAA's new policy, which was adopted in 2013, should help reduce heat-related issues. The policy limits practices during the first two weeks to three hours and prohibits two-a-days until an athlete's eighth day of participation. It also requires there to be at least a five-minute rest and hydration break for every 30 minutes of practice.
For football specifically, the FHSAA does not allow for full gear and body contact until the sixth day of practice.
The policy comes with penalties, as football head coaches who commit a violation are ineligible to coach or attend any contest at any level for a minimum of one game. Repeat offenders are hit with even tougher penalties.
"The policy is very, very specific," Palm Beach County School District Athletics Director Yetta Greene said. "That's what we do. That's what we have to do. It defines what an official practice is.
"How do you regulate this policy? You hope nobody wants to put their kids in danger. The policy also comes with sanctions on coaches. You would have to be out of your mind not to follow this."
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SYMPTOMS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION:
Confusion, dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration), dizziness, fainting, fatigue, headache, muscle cramps, nausea, pale skin, profuse sweating, rapid heartbeat.
TREATMENT FOR HEAT EXHAUSTION:
Drink plenty of fluids (avoid caffeine), remove any tight or unnecessary clothing, take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath, apply other cooling measures such as fans or ice towels.