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Elimination sought for two-a-days

By Paul J. Weber
Associated Press / June 19, 2009
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SAN ANTONIO - High school football teams should eliminate two-a-day practices during the first week of August drills when heat stroke has proven particularly deadly, a leading trainers’ group said yesterday in a report issued less than two months before the sweltering rite of passage begins at thousands of schools.

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association said its recommendations, which include longer breaks between practice and more time for players to ease into contact drills, are not radical changes and closely mirror policies already in place at the Division 1 college level.

They also pointed to the death of a 15-year-old Kentucky boy last August after he collapsed during practice. Prosecutors charged his coach with reckless homicide in an unusual case of a coach being held criminally responsible for a player’s death.

“Things aren’t going very well at the high school level, we’ve had a couple very bad years,’’ said Douglas Casa, director of athletic training education at the University of Connecticut and co-author of the report for the Dallas-based association.

The executive director of the Texas High School Coaches Association, D.W. Rutledge, said he declined an invitation to appear at a news conference announcing the proposals. Rutledge, who won four state championships in Texas, said he first wanted to review the guidelines with his membership.

Scaling back on two-a-days amounts to lost preparation time, he said, and that’s something that could concern coaches in football-crazed Texas.

Since 1995, at least 39 football players across all levels have died from heat-related causes and most of those cases happened in early August, said Dr. Frederick Mueller, director of the National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research at the University of North Carolina.

At least 42 states have heat illness-prevention guidelines, said David Csillan, an athletic trainer at Ewing High School in Ewing, N.J.