Tackling the heat
Precautions taken at THS for blistering temperatures
Tonganoxie athletics trainer Mark Padfield held the heat index device roughly three feet from his face while he stood on the sidelines Monday at the first day of THS football practice.
"We have a 107 heat index," Padfield said.
The device's triple-digit reading put into perspective how hot it was at the practice field, but most of the football players were accustomed to the conditions for the majority of the summer.
"If the kids came to summer conditioning, we should be in shape and prepared for it," Tonganoxie coach Mark Elston said. "It was every bit of 105 to 110 (degrees) in the weight room."
Tonganoxie coaches still prepared for the excessive heat warnings Monday. Water was constantly running out of a pipe with holes punched in it on the sidelines. Padfield carried towels drenched in ice water. Players took breaks from drills every few minutes.
Padfield also weighed the majority of the players, particularly linemen, before and after practice. For every pound of body weight the players lost Monday, Padfield had them drink 32 ounces of fluid to get it back. The players couldn't leave practice until they drank the necessary fluids.
Elston said he encouraged players to hydrate before practice as well. Senior defensive lineman Cameron Adcox certainly took the advice.
"I had about two 44-ounce cups full of water, then three or four smaller glasses," Adcox said. "After a while, you kind of get sick of water, but you have to drink it because you know it's going to pay off right about now."
Adcox said after practice, he was going to take a cold shower and apply cold towels to his head.
The football team started two-a-day practices Monday shortly after 3 p.m. After a two-hour break, the Chieftains resumed practice from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Elston said with proper hydration in mind, he saw the weather conditions as beneficial to his team in the long run.
"I'm glad it's this hot," Elston said. "I would prefer it to be this warm because it gets you in shape. And with the mental side of it, you find out what kids can fight through stuff mentally, because it takes a toll on your thinking and concentration."
Adcox said from a lineman's perspective, the heat was tiring at the end of practice because of the constant pressure linemen put on their legs, arms and body.
For Adcox's last year, though, he won't be taking it easy too often.
"We're trying to make the best of it, deal with the heat and try to have as much fun as possible," Adcox said. "As coach said before we got out here, it ends in a heartbeat. You never know when your last play is going to be. Your season could end at any moment, so you just want to play football. You don't get to do it for your whole life."
Tonganoxie will take part in two-a-days all week. The first day of practicing in pads will be Thursday. The season begins Aug. 31 on the road against Lansing.
The Chieftains boys soccer team began its first day of practice Monday as well. THS coach Ken Lott said he thought about holding practice inside because of the heat. However, players requested practice be outside.
"They wanted to be outside so they could kick the ball around," Lott said. "It's not really comfortable for them, but as long as they keep their water and feel all right, we'll stay outside."
The soccer team took water breaks every 15 minutes.
The varsity roster will have about 26 players on it. Returning seniors are Tyler Sparks, Erick Lowe, Josh Nowasell and Austin Koontz.
The volleyball team held two-a-day practices from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday in the THS gym.
There were 37 players present at the first day of practice. About 12 will make the varsity roster and the rest will be split up on the junior varsity and freshmen teams.
"Right now, we have young kids with old kids and it's nice because the old kids can be teachers, too," THS co-coach Brandon Parker said.
The Chieftains will return seven seniors from their sub-state team last season. As a result, expectations will be rather high.
"They have high expectations for themselves because this is their third year of doing it," Parker said. "They learned on the go and got whooped a little bit their sophomore year, then had a good season last year. They're a group that enjoys volleyball and enjoys competing, so I think they're ready to make a run."
The cross country team held practice Monday morning at midnight. It had its next practice at 6 a.m. on Tuesday.
"This first week, we're mainly doing distance work to build up our strength," Tonganoxie coach Phil Williams said. "Some ran over the summer, but not everyone."
The more conditioned athletes are running about six miles per day at the start. Athletes who didn't condition as much this summer are running about four miles per day.
Currently, Williams has 37 runners -- 19 girls and 18 boys.
The cross country team will start the season Aug. 30 for the Tonganoxie quadrangular meet. Williams will determine his seven runners roughly two days before the meet.