Football and heat safety are personal for one area high school coach

NEWTON, Kan. (KSNW) – For Newton High School head football coach Greg Slade the heat wave is a reminder to push players to take breaks and stay hydrated.

“It’s kind of heavy on my heart right now,” said Slade.

Slade coached at Blue Valley North in the Kansas City area. One of his former players was Myzelle Law, who recently died while practicing for his football career at Mid-America Nazarene.

Family members say Law died from heat-related issues while practicing.

“So we just gotta be safe and smart. Look for the signs and be prepared,” said Slade on Monday.

Slade had his players practicing at night on Monday, like so many high school teams across the state for safety.

“I think they get it, but we tell them and tell them all the time, drink water, drink Gatorade, you know, Bodyarmor, whatever,” said Slade. “Stay away from the soda. And not just liquids but make sure they’re eating right and getting enough rest.”

Slade says he and the coaching staff pass along to parents and players what to do to be safe.

Especially with record-breaking temperatures this year in the area.

“I mean, really, coaches take care of us getting water breaks and everything,” said Newton’s high left tackle, Nicholas Ruth. “They make sure we are all staying hydrated. We all stay in shape.”

Slade says they have temperature checks and follow Kansas State High Schools Activities Association guidelines on the heat. Sometimes that means practicing without pads or even helmets if the heat is too much.

Coaches also make sure to keep an eye on their players as well.

“Check them. First off, maybe the kids that are not moving as fast as they normally are,” said Slade. “And the ones that are having to take breaks more often, and you know, the ones that aren’t sweating as much when everybody else is sweating.”

Slade says there are little signs as well as big signs to watch. But he also says watching players for safety is just as important or even more important than looking for winning strategies.

“We try to prepare them as much as we can,” said Slade.