KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Student-athletes at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri, practiced football, soccer or cross country before school instead of after school Monday and Tuesday in order to avoid exposure to high heat and humidity.
The Kansas City area is under a heat advisory with heat index values forecast to reach 106 degrees.
The school pushed back the beginning of class both days to allow for the practices to take place, but Athletic Director Mike Dierks said all academic programming went on as scheduled.
He said roughly 45 percent of the school’s approximately 930 students participate in a fall sport.
Both the Missouri and Kansas high school activities associations recommend schools use a wet bulb globe thermometer to determine the environmental heat stress and make adjustments based on the thermometer’s reading. A wet bulb globe thermometer measures wind and solar exposure/radiation in addition to the standard heat index reading.
The Kansas State High School Activities Association calls exertional heatstroke the leading cause of preventable death in high school athletics.
Dierks said student-athletes will practice later in the evening the rest of this week, partly to acclimate them to the humidity that they’ll experience while playing games in the evening time.
The first soccer and football games of the school year are later this week.
“Tomorrow [Wednesday] evening, when the sun goes down, we’re going to bring our football players out to get a little bit used to it,” Dierks explained. “We still have to get them ready for it, but at the same time, we don’t need to expose them to the three to six o’clock time when it’s 105 and 110 heat index. The risk is not worth the reward.”
Rockhurst anticipated its athletes would consume about 160 gallons of water during Tuesday’s practices.