Athletic departments in the Ozarks canceling, rescheduling practices amidst record heat indices

Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 4:44 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Athletic practices have been stopped across the Ozarks because of this dangerous heat and humidity.

Experts say it’s so hot it can cause serious health problems for the students on the field. So some schools are deciding to reschedule or cancel practice.

“We’re following the science,” said Joshua Scott with Springfield Public Schools. “And I think that’s what’s crucial about it. It’s not going out on a whim.”

From Springfield to Bolivar, football fields across the Ozarks are empty. And while the change of plans happened quickly, there are always contingencies for the extreme heat and humidity.

“Whether it’d be a morning practice on a day like today or later evening practice, or potentially even an indoor practice, working around those indoor sports such as volleyball, we’ve got to have contingency plans in place as far as facilities are concerned,” said Bolivar Middle School Athletic Director Zach Julian.

Schools like Bolivar are doing tests every 15 minutes to see when, or if, the fields are safe for practice.

“We don’t want kids getting hurt, or we don’t have one have kids with heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and have to overcome those things as well,” said Julian. “So student safety is our number one priority.”

The same is happening in Springfield. Practices have either been moved to the mornings or the nights or are canceled altogether. And Joshua Scott with SPS says it’s not just the athletes that need to be thought about when it comes to the games.

“What about our fans who are coming to attend,” said Scott. “What about people that maybe aren’t as used to that, so that’s why you’re gonna see some games pushed back a little later or practices pushed earlier.”

Both Bolivar and Springfield have coaches trained in life-saving first aid as well as trainers with local hospitals that help the athletes, especially in times like these.

“We have different emergency action plans that we follow as well,” said Julian. “With our coaches, our coaches are trained on that. And as long as CPR first aid certified, they go through heat illness training through MSHSAA. Um, that’s one of the requirements for all coaches to go through. So they’re trained on these things on an annual basis.”

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