Practice is hot

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

Winning isn’t the only thing.

That is the message the football coaches of the Roanoke-Chowan area are sending clearly after the opening days of practice.

Almost to a man, the coaches respond, &uot;hot&uot; when asked how they are. And in response to temperatures soaring into the high 90s, they are making concessions aimed at keeping their players safe.

&uot;I never thought I would back off a football team during conditioning, but I’ve backed off,&uot; Lawrence Academy coach Alan Spencer said. &uot;I’ve had no choice.&uot;

Spencer said he had backed off his demanding workouts and had also shortened practice by 30 minutes because of the excessive heat.

Northampton County High School – West coach Diego Hasty said his defending Eastern 1-A champion Hurricanes are practicing indoors.

&uot;We’ve been practicing in the gym,&uot; Hasty said. &uot;We’re doing all of our conditioning inside. We’re not taking any chances in this excessive heat.&uot;

Hasty said he would start moving practice outdoors later in the evening once they were able to wear helmets and shoulder pads, but felt he was getting more from his team by practicing inside.

In Hertford County, head coach Greg Watford was also concerned about the heat factor.

&uot;So far, it’s very, very hot,&uot; he said. &uot;In fact today (Wednesday), we’re going to be inside. I’m not taking them outside in this heat.

&uot;It’s counterproductive to go out there,&uot; he added. &uot;You can’t condition them out there, all you can do is scare them to death.&uot;

Watford said when the Bears have been on the field, he and his staff have taken extra precautions.

&uot;We’ve got coolers at every station when we are outside,&uot; he stressed. &uot;We take extra water breaks and every coach is watching every kid. We’re very vigilant about it.&uot;

First year head coach Tony Hoggard said his Bertie players were also being watched closely as they practice in the heat.

&uot;We’re practicing,&uot; he said. &uot;We’ve been giving extra long water breaks and letting them take whatever breaks they need. If we have a player get extra hot or dizzy, we let them stop.&uot;

Hoggard said the heat was harder on the bigger guys on the team, but that everyone was working diligently.

As for Gates County, the Red Barons are also continuing, but veteran GCHS skipper Clark Harrell said he has also made concessions to the heat.

&uot;I’ve been a head coach for 23 years and this is the hottest I can remember it,&uot; Harrell said. &uot;We’ve been wearing just helmets and backing down. We’re doing more walk throughs.&uot;

Harrell said his regiment was to do a little work then a walk through and the back to work followed by another walk through.

&uot;We’re trying to keep them focused,&uot; he said. &uot;We’ve told them we need to be ready when the heat breaks and not have to reteach the stuff we’re going through now. We’re trying to stay mentally intense.&uot;