Some local high school football coaches disagree with a recommendation by the National Athletic Trainers' Association that football teams eliminate two-a-day practices in the first week of August drills.
Concerned about heatstroke illnesses and fatalities, the association, at its convention in San Antonio, Texas, highlighted yesterday the death of a 15-year-old Kentucky boy last August.
The boy, Max Gilpin, collapsed on the first day of practice, and his coach, David Jason Stinson, was charged with reckless homicide. Stinson has pleaded not guilty and is to be tried in August.
In New Jersey, Shawnee coach Tim Gushue and Delsea coach Sal Marchese disagreed with the elimination of two-a-day practices. In Pennsylvania, St. Joseph's Prep coach Gil Brooks and Neshaminy coach Mark Schmidt agreed with their view.
"We already follow the NCAA model for conducting preseason practices in August," which the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association "has backed," said Gushue, who guided the Renegades to the South Jersey Group 3 championship.
Gushue said it came down to common sense in preparing players for practice in hot weather. They need to be hydrated and prepared for physical contact, he said.
Marchese said eliminating a second practice would be a setback for his team.
"I'd worry about injuries because a kid would not be in shape to play a full game, especially kids who go both ways," said Marchese, who led Delsea to the South Jersey Group 2 title.
At St. Joseph's Prep, Brooks has a double-platoon system that requires the offense to practice in the morning and the defense to work in the afternoon.
"We need two-a-days," Brooks said. "We only have five days to put our offensive and defensive systems in."
Schmidt called the trainers' recommendation "a joke."
"It would cause more problems than good," Schmidt said. "Offensive and defensive strategies need repetition and conditioning."