While most high school football players are counting down the days — either with anticipation or dread — until the start of practice on Aug. 7, the players in the Oklahoma City Public Schools have a roadblock standing between them and football.
For them, school starts Wednesday.
For the second year, OKCPS is utilizing the continuous learning academic calendar districtwide.
While there is the potential for great academic advantages in year-round school, its impact on football is a little different. But after a year to test it out, most coaches in the district are looking forward to it again this year.
The only significant drawback is the heat.
With school all day, teams end up practicing in the middle of the afternoon, during the hottest part of the day. Meanwhile, other schools are holding their workouts in the early morning or evening to avoid triple-digit temperatures.
“The biggest concern we hear from coaches is not having the flexibility in scheduling practices to get out of the heat,” district athletic director Keith Sinor said. “Everybody's battling the same things, but we have to make sure that we provide as much water supply and any shade that we can. It's hard to compete against 108 degrees.”
The OKCPS teams have the option to practice in the evening, but many of the players don't have transportation readily available to get them back to the school later in the day, so participation stays higher at afternoon practices.
Because of that, the coaches and administrators take extra precautions to deal with the heat.
“Mr. Sinor has given us all the stuff we need to make sure we're keeping the kids hydrated,” John Marshall coach Bruce Troxell said. “We've gone to camps this month, and you spend three hours out in it. And we have this first week of school to do our conditioning in the heat so that we're better adapted to it.