Summer workouts help prep football players get used to hot conditions
and PATRICK BAHR
Two by two, Grand Junction High School football players lined up on the scorching hot asphalt.
Assistant coach Brandon Harrison shouted, “Ready, set, go!”
The players launched into a 5-yard sprint, turned a corner of two cones to another set of cones, touched the pavement with their hands and sprinted back.
Close to 50 players participate in agility, 7-on-7 and weightlifting workouts between 5 and 7 p.m. five days a week at the school.
C.J. Deters and James Diamanti have rarely missed a day, regardless of the heat and unusual humidity that has encompassed the Grand Valley this summer.
“We’ve been doing workouts ever since football season ended,” Deters said. “We usually don’t have the full team until summer.”
Fall camp begins Aug. 15 for high schools, so athletes have only two more weeks to prepare.
Fruita Monument players know what it’s like to play in hot conditions.
In 2010, the Wildcats played a Sept. 4 game against Cherokee Trail, with temperature on the synthetic surface at Stocker Stadium reaching 173.2 degrees.
“When we first stepped out I had black shoes on and my feet felt like they were on fire,” Fruita Monument senior Cody Daniels said. “Kids were puking, getting dehydrated, dizzy, and the whole game you felt like you were dragging and were beat down by the heat.”
Fruita’s game in 2010 wasn’t the first time players have had to deal with the high temperatures in Grand Junction.
It’s not uncommon for coaches to schedule at least one of their daily practices during the hottest time of the day, because once classes start, teams practice after school.
“You don’t want to go out in the morning when it’s 75 degrees out and get used to that,” Daniels said. “When we get pads on, we’ll be out here at 3 in the afternoon when it’s 110 degrees.”
That’s why high school players work out through the summer, so they can handle the heat when they put on pads and helmets.
“It definitely does affect them,” Harrison said. “The person that handles it the best will have the advantage. It will be a hot game (Sept. 2) at Highlands Ranch. It will be hot on the turf and hot in the pads.
“I’m glad we’re (conditioning) now. It will get tougher when the pads come on. One thing I like to do is get a bucket of ice water and rags and wring ice-cold water on them. We’ll have some at Highlands Ranch.”
Harrison preaches hydration and nutrition to prevent heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses.
Deters and Diamanti have learned the value of staying hydrated and eating right, especially this summer with the unusually humid conditions.
“I go home and I drink four or five glasses of water. I kind of go on a diet during football season, so I can cut down weight and move quicker,” said Diamanti, a junior lineman who is 6-foot-4 and weighs 270 pounds.
Deters, a 6-2, 280-pound senior lineman, gets up early to drink a protein shake and believes it makes a difference.
“When we’re doing our football workouts, we’re really getting into the weight room a lot,” Deters said. “I’ll wake myself up at 4, drink a protein shake, then go back to sleep, just to help recover and get the muscles ready for the next day.”
Although the two are burning a lot of energy working out in the hot weather, they look past the grueling conditions and focus on the payoff.
“You have to get the mindset of toughness,” Fruita Monument senior quarterback Zach Thorpe said. “It’s hot during those games, so if we’re out here doing tough conditioning, it’ll pay off in the end.”
Fruita Monument coach Sean Mulvey said the hot conditions help build a team’s resiliency.
“Mentally it’s tough on you and you can start giving yourself excuses and reasons to get out of reps,” Mulvey said. “When you condition yourself throughout the heat in the summer, you are able to push yourself harder.”
Mulvey added it’s his responsibility to ensure the players are approaching their conditioning in the heat properly.
“You have to do a good job as a coach to know what they need,” Mulvey said, “making sure the water stations are out and monitoring players to make sure they understand the dangers if they are feeling light-headed.”