New Orleans, La. - It is mid-August and if you think you're hot, imaging running around with a helmet and pads. In some cases, core body temperatures as high as 109-degrees have led to death, and the goal for football coaches is to keep players out of the danger zone.
“Normal core is 98.6, and it's not uncommon for these guys to get up to 102,” said Tulane trainer Andy Massey, talking about Green Wave football players.
This week, Tulane freshman Renaldo Thomas was rushed to the hospital for suspected heat stroke. An official diagnosis has not been made. Head coach Bob Toledo visited his recovering player Wednesday night.
“I went to hospital last night and saw Renaldo. He had a smile on his face and he was laughing,” Toledo said.
Massey said Thomas should be out of the hospital within the next 24 hours.
“There are no cardiac issues. We will monitor him and go from there,” Massey said.
For these athletes, and for those on practice fields across town, heat will remain the enemy for the next month and a half.
“It's definitely pretty hot,” Quarterback Ryan Griffin said. “We start full gear tomorrow with pants. It's humid.”
One thing the team is big on is the ice bath. Players head straight over once another 90-degree plus practice is over. Over a dozen washtubs are lined up on the edge of the practice fields for a cool down and to ease sore muscles.
Over the past 10 years, two football players die from heat stroke each year, according to LiveScience.com
. Prevention is key. Coaches work to help players acclimate themselves properly to the heat over several days, take regular water breaks, and reduce activity when the heat index soars.
“Right in the middle of practice, I take them in the locker room for ten minutes, and we cool down a little bit,” Toledo said.
It's a constant challenge for a program that is determined to make it to a bowl game this season, but it is a challenge which Tulane says it is ready for.