Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Message Not Watered Down; Coaches Preaching Hydration

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Message Not Watered Down; Coaches Preaching Hydration

Article excerpt

Byline: Chase Goodbread, Times-Union sports writer

Overcast skies and the threat of rain loomed over most of the high school football drills in Duval County yesterday, the first day teams were permitted to start formal practice by the Florida High School Athletic Association. But despite the mild conditions, keeping players hydrated was of significant importance to area coaches.

All three of the Jacksonville Jaguars who have collapsed in preseason practice did so in temperatures below 90 degrees, creating more awareness for a problem that already is a focus of attention: dehydration on the football field.

"Between what's gone on at Alltel and some of the other problems that have happened, you bet we're trying to do something about it," said Wolfson coach Ron Reagan. "It obviously doesn't matter how hot it is, kids can still get dehydrated."

Reagan's players hydrated during practice with a new Waterboy, a portable, wheeled machine that can dispense cold water to five players at a time. At a cost of nearly $1,000, the machine will be used by both the varsity and junior varsity teams as well as by other sports throughout the school year.

"We call it the water buffalo," Reagan said. "It's put to good use. And we've also got a cool-zone fan, so we're doing what we can. These conditions are great, but sooner or later, we're going to have a day where we don't get the afternoon clouds, it'll be 95 [degrees], and those are the days you worry the most."

At Englewood, coach Thomas Laubach's staff could be heard after practice doing more than encouraging players to hydrate; they were demanding it. The Rams plodded through the school's water-logged softball field for its first workout.

"Personally, I think kids just don't get out in the summer like they used to," Laubach said. "When I was a kid, I was outside all day every summer and when the street lights came on, mom called you in. …

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