Parents have been questioning why Hillsborough County decided to shut down high school sports programs. On June 13th, this was due to another loss of an athlete’s life caused by the common heat stroke. Hezekiah B. Walters, a 14-year-old freshman was weight lifting and practicing wind sprints when all the sudden the teenager passed out. Hezekiah was then taken to Saint Joseph hospital. Parents and the ambulance rushed to get him to the nearest hospital room. After doctors tried to revive him, the athlete was pronounced deceased due to heatstroke.

This was a devastating loss to the school and the family of the young man. The death of Walters had sent an important message to the county about safety procedures – they’re not safe enough.

His death is now the third high school death in Florida. Hillsborough County made the decision to shut down all sports programs until further notice.

While this was happening new types of rules were being set in place. Hillsborough County had a lot to discuss and fast. What they decided was that each school was now required to have coaches take course and test to prepare for unexpected events.

Not only do coaches make changes but students too. With these student changes students have to be aware of the consequences of their own choices that affect their health. They will have to be aware of the things that can pressure an athlete to not get water making them more dehydrated.

Each student is then also required to complete an athletic packet. In the packet, students are required to watch 3 videos: Heat Illness Prevention, Concussion In Sports, and Sudden Cardiac Arrest. These videos may be dull and boring, yet the knowledge lowers the chance in coach losing a player. There have been many studies in the county to support this. In Hillsborough County, the rate of deaths has gone from 3.2% to 2.2% in the past year. That one percent is about 30 kids lives who are saved.

To help fix problems like this, 2 new rules were set in place. Each of the two rules are required for all schools to participate in.

First, the coaches and athletic staff are required to have an ice bath at the practice. The proper temperature to have it at is in between 35-59 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help cool their body temperature quickly and efficiently. With this ice bath, you also will need to have another point of view professionally in these types of situations.

Second, each school is required to have an athletic trainer at practices and games. These are people trained in more sports-related information and are a bit more helpful when it comes to things like heat illness. Athletic trainers know all the exact procedures and are quick to aid anyone in need.

The goal of these rules is to make things safer and better for all people involved in high school athletics. This will definitely help ensure the safety of every athlete. These new rules have been put into place and they will continue to save more students lives day by day.

Charlese Thybulle // Staff Writer

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