The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia on July 29, 2007 · E7
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The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia · E7

Atlanta, Georgia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 29, 2007
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Filename: E7-SPORTS-AJCD0729-4FOUR Date/Time created: Jul 28 2007 6:42:13:176PM Username: SPEED4 AJCD0729-4DOT Sunday, Jul 29, 2007 SPORTS 7 E 4DOT 7 E Cyan Magenta Yellow Black *SUZ21OA001KB* 7 E $EGL+*A3))*=4$ Cyan Magenta Yellow Black 4DOT File name: E7-SPORTS-AJCD0729-4FOUR Date/Time created: Jul 28 2007 6:42:13:176PM Username: SPEED4 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / 4 Sunday, July 29, 2007 / E7 Heat: State coaches alert for danger signs Carter spent much of the evening last year at the hospital, where doctors were trying to stabilize Davis, who was diagnosed with heatstroke. The coach didn’t get home until late in the evening, having prayed much more than he ate in the hours since leaving the practice field. In the early morning, the telephone rang. “A family member called me and said [Davis] had passed,” said Carter, now an assistant principal at Putnam County Middle School. “It was just a heavy burden of, ‘Wow, I lost a kid.’ In football, as a team, it’s like a family. You just don’t think it would happen; you don’t want it to happen.” It’s a stark reminder for coaches who are trying to balance preseason conditioning with player safety — sometimes even when you do everything right it’s not enough. Tragedy creates change According to a study by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, 15 high school football players died from direct or indirect results of playing football in 2006. At least 10 occurred after practice, three from heatstroke. A few weeks after Davis’ death, the Georgia High School Association’s executive committee unanimously approved a statewide policy requiring each school to have a written policy for conducting practices during times of extreme heat and humidity. A scientifically approved device, which measures heat and humidity, is required on every practice field. “Sometimes, when you have a tragedy, it may send you to deeper levels, saying, ‘OK, I thought we were in pretty good shape, but why did this happen?’ ” GHSA executive director Ralph Swearngin said. “Yet by the same token, it isn’t a matter of everything’s passive until tragedy strikes.” Davis is one of several football players to die in Georgia since 1988. Chattahoochee’s Ryan Boslet died from heart-related problems during an offseason workout in 2003. Marcus Ellison died as a result of heatstroke at Wheeler in 1999. And Valdosta’s Kenny Rose died because of heart problems during a practice session in 1988. The deaths of Boslet and Rose showed coaches that heart problems can be just as dangerous — and even more difficult to anticipate — than heat-related issues. The Ryan Boslet Bill, passed by the Georgia Legislature in 2005, requires all schools to use a single, comprehensive physical examination form for students who want to participate in sports. “[Ryan] didn’t die in vain; I keep saying that,” said then-Chattahoochee coach Bill Waters, now the coach at Alpharetta. “There’s a lot of things that in his life, as short as it was, he really had an impact on kids.” At Valdosta’s Bazemore- Hyder Stadium, the stripe at the 39-yard line is circled in black and gold in honor of Rose, whose jersey number was 39. It has been almost 20 years, but Woodstock coach Mike O’Brien still remembers the lessons of that day. “It’s something that’s tough to deal with,” said O’Brien, who was an assistant coach at Valdosta in 1988. “Kids all think they’re invincible. Once they see something like that occur, they sort of question everything. It helps in a sense when you start talking to them. Nothing’s promised to you.” Other coaches empathize Veteran coach Buck Godfrey, who is starting his 20th season at Southwest DeKalb, has never lost a player, but he saw last year just how close to home it can hit. Carter is a former member of his staff, and Godfrey was among the first to offer words of support after hearing about Davis’ death. “He’s a friend; he’s a brother to you,” Godfrey said. “You feel his pain. Any time you’re put in charge of, more or less, the life of a child and it slips away from you ... I hope to never experience that. That’s a feeling I can’t try to imagine.” Too many coaches can. The NCCSI study shows 23 high school football players have died of heatstroke since 1995, and the danger is never higher than it is when practice starts this week. According to, the average high temperature in metro Atlanta is almost 90 degrees for the first three weeks of August. The necessary precautions are well-known, and the majority of coaches follow them closely. But sometimes those safeguards fail to work. When they do fail, players can take a piece of their coach with them. “[The pain] doesn’t linger to stop you, but to make you remember,” said Carter, who did not discuss Davis’ death publicly for a year. “You never forget, especially when young kids are part of your life, and you’re part of theirs. When it does come back into your mind, it comes back as ‘That was quite a kid.’ ” ➤ Continued from E1 BEATING THE HEAT A primer for high school coaches and players who will begin football practice on Wednesday . WHAT PLAYERS SHOULD DO : ➤ Be educated about the signs of heat illness and report them to the coaching staff, whether it’s for yourself or another player. ➤ Don’t wait until you’re thirsty; make sure you get water every chance you get. ➤ Don’t try to “be tough” by staying on the field if you feel even slightly uncomfortable; tell a coach and get off the field. THE WARNING SIGNS ➤ Muscle spasms/cramps ➤ Mental status changes; watch for glassy-eyed look ➤ Thirst; once a player feels thirsty, he’s already dehydrated ➤ Dry mouth ➤ Weakness ➤ Dizziness ➤ Disorientation PRECAUTIONS ➤ Drink plenty of water before, during and after practice. ➤ Have lots of shade available for players during practice. ➤ Coaches should keep very cold water immediately available at practice, possibly in the form of ice water in a kiddie pool or ice water-soaked towels. ➤ Monitor vital signs of players during practice. ➤ Have players gradually work their way toward strenuous activity. ➤ Every coach should have a heat index indicator in his pocket. ➤ Make sure each player has a detailed physical before starting practice. ➤ Hold practices either early in the morning or later in the evening, instead of midday. Sources : Dr. Dave Marshall of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Dr. Brian J. Tovin of the Sports Rehabilitation Center of Atlanta “It was just a heavy burden of, ‘Wow, I lost a kid.’ In football, as a team, it’s like a family.’’ — Lee Carter, former Rockdale coach Upstart vs. juggernaut in showdown ASSOCIATED PRESS New Orleans — The San Jose SaberCats know the regular season won’t mean anything when they face the Columbus Destroyers in the Arena Bowl today. Columbus has been a different team since barely qualifying for the playoffs with a 79 regular-season record. The Destroyers come into the game averaging 63 points in the postseason — an improvement of 13 points from their regular-season average — and with playoff victories over Dallas and Georgia, the teams with the best regular-season records. “You can’t help but have respect for the road that they’ve gone down,” San Jose quarter - back Mark Grieb said. “They’ve just played gritty football. They’ve been very opportunistic, and their offense has just gotten it done.” The SaberCats haven’t lost in 3¸ months and have won two of the past five AFL titles. The Destroyers, seeking their first championship, hope to become the second consecutive team to win the Arena Bowl after a 7-9 regular season. Chicago did it last season. During the playoffs, Columbus quarterback Matt Nagy has completed 67 percent of his passes and thrown 14 touchdowns and two interceptions. Destroyers wide receiver Damien Groce said it took time for the team to “get in sync” with new players and a new offensive coordinator this season. “It happened late, but it happened,” said Groce, who has scored five touchdowns in the playoffs. Columbus lost five of its last six regular-season games, including a close game at Philadelphia, before winning their last game 74-43 against New York. “We came out of the Philly game and finally started believing,” Columbus coach Doug Kay said. The New York game was “probably the thing that put the swagger back a little bit and made them believe they could still be a good football team.” San Jose was 3-3 before winning its last 10 regular-season games and beating Colorado and Chicago in the playoffs. The Arena Bowl is being played in New Orleans, where San Jose and Columbus each lost in the regular season to the hometown VooDoo. ARENA FOOTBALL Columbus quarterback Matt Nagy has led a team that was 7-9 in the regular season to the AFL title game. ARENA BOWL XXI ➤ Who: Columbus vs. San Jose ➤ When: 3 p.m. today; New Orleans Arena ➤ TV: ABC ,96.>?2+ - LL +?NF9O4 PAMJP\M!$PBM 179,,,'$%>-8;$8% !)-8'>-$:8(:8-/ &(7+4*2) 2*0'$2*, /)-0 -#* '%#13")2-002* 5%$-1.-)1 3 < !)- ?9@=280 8%%#/>8/)( ITb(XC$_VXWFc!!'^D_WX CP&BR-BDP\aaaA-a"" C1"BR-BDPBaaa\1a"" C1"BR>"DPBaaa\1a"" C1PBR>"DPBaaa\-a"" CP>BR-BDP\ .97P"QF\"J"""=9;4 ;9=9G43 K+DD+?GN - :O !! <.=/9=6(8+. 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