MEMPHIS, Tenn. — High school athletes and coaches are braving the heat to get ready for the upcoming season. Football players, cheerleaders and coaches are getting up dark and early as a way to beat the heat.
With a month before the season starts the Whitehaven Tigers are holding their first day of two-a-day full padded contact practice. Rodney Saulsberry is Whitehaven’s Head Coach.
“That first day of pads is like a rite of passage for us, doing the early morning practice, we like it,” Saulsberry said.
With the Mid-South continuing to deal with hot temperatures, the team started practice this morning at six.
“I like early morning practices it’s much cooler, the vibe of practice is more chill, but you still got to bring that energy all day,” Defensive Line Coach Taylor Burton said.
Many teams will start off Monday practicing twice a day. According to TSSAA rules as of midnight, High School Football teams are allowed two practice sessions a day but not on back-to-back days.
Teams can practice for up to three hours at a time with at least a three-hour rest in between. Total practice time must not exceed five hours per day. Coaches have been creative, especially with evening practice.
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“We have a four to eight o’clock window, obviously, 4 is still warm so we end up not getting on the field until 5:30 so we end up practicing a little later. but we definitely have to get the work in so managing the heat makes you adjust,” Coach Saulsberry said.
Players said they are also being coached on staying hydrated.
“This morning I tried to do a lot of fruit; it keeps me going. I feel the difference when I do eat a lot of fruit,” Coach Burton said.
“I drink a lot of water. I drink a gallon of water every day. Then, get up and do some push-ups,” Mahamadou Diaria said, a Whitehaven Linebacker.
From the football field to the sideline athletes at Whitehaven High School, they’re getting themselves ready for the upcoming season.
“Cheer is definitely a sport as you can see, we come out here just like they do, we work twice as hard,” Camille Richardson said, Whitehaven Cheerleader.
The cheer team is also practicing early to beat the heat.
“We stand on our feet longest period of time so it’s really just coming out here running, doing the bleachers it helps build stamina,” Rhyan Henry said, Whitehaven Cheerleader.
“During football games we have to stand here in the heat — after school, the game starts at six or seven o’clock. we have to be out here doing sidelines playing the band,” Alexis Sargent said, Whitehaven Cheerleader.
Whitehaven kicks off their season against Ridgeway on August 26.