ST. LOUIS – Instead of the usual after-school practice for the Northwest High School football team, extreme heat pushed the practice back several hours on Tuesday.
The team practiced under the lights after a warm-up inside the school gym.
“This is pretty extreme,” Athletic Director Kyle Wambler said.
It was also the first day of school, and it may end up being the hottest of the school year.
“It’s probably the hottest,” senior Nick Younkins said.
The team spent 10 minutes in the gym before moving to the school’s turf field just after 7 p.m.
“We follow the Missouri State High School Activity Association guidelines,” Wambler said. “We are going either early in the mornings and starting at 5:30 or starting at 7 p.m. at night.”
According to the MSHSAA, a heat index between 95° and 105° means practices should be altered. If it’s over 105°, a practice or contest should be postponed or rescheduled. A more accurate reading comes from a wet bulb.
“The wet bulb thermometer measures the heat stress outside,” athletic trainer Lithany Devontenno said Tuesday. “It takes into account the temperature, wind and sun.
The wet bulb read 87.9° Tuesday evening, meaning players could practice for two hours with helmets and shoulder pads on in shorts. If it were up to players, they may practice whenever.
“I just love football,” Younkins said. “Practicing is just fun to me, so I don’t care when we practice.”
That’s when MSHSAA guidelines come into play.
“A lot of them they are teenagers,” Wambler said. “They have that Superman mentality; they can get through anything. It’s up to us administrators to keep them safe.”
There’s also a chance some games this Friday may need to be postponed by at least an hour due to the extreme heat expected.