Heat changes football practices

With this summer's unusually hot conditions, the coaching staff at Big Spring have instituted some changes when it comes to football practices. Two-a-days still started Aug. 1, as they did across the state and most of the nation, but a concentrated effort is being made to keep the players hydrated and ensure their safety.“We have scheduled water breaks throughout our practices,” Head Coach Phillip Ritchey said. “In addition, the boys are encouraged to go get water any time they need it. We don't want them wasting time asking. We want them to just go get it.”This summer has already proven deadly for those involved in football practices in Texas and the U.S. Two Georgia high school players, both 16, died Tuesday from heat-related issues. Their deaths came less than 24 hours after Wade McLain, a high school football coach in Plano, died when he collapsed after his team's practice Monday.“We have water stations set up all over the field during the sessions this year,” Coach Ritchey added. “We want them to get more water, especially this year. Our trainers are running back and forth with bottles of water as well.”The Steers cut their second practice short Wednesday when they saw it was pushing past noon and the wind had died down to an almost nonexistent state. The coaching staff made the call to go ahead and suspend the session for the day.“There was no need to keep pushing them at that point,” he said. “We have no problem adjusting our practices on the fly, to keep the players safe. Once the wind died, we could not see the benefit of pushing them any harder, just to get in the scheduled two hours.”The Steers will suit up for their first practice in full pads Friday morning. Coach Ritchey said he and his coaching staff will express the need for more water to the players even more than they already have been to this point.