Week of extreme heat impacting youth sports across Kansas

Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 3:18 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Storm Team 12 has issued Weather Alert Days for Monday through Friday as temperatures are expected to surpass the century mark across Kansas, with indices making it feel like 110-120 degrees in some areas.

The dangerous weather has led several schools and youth sporting organizations to either adjust or in some instances, cancel practices altogether.

The Greater Wichita YMCA said it was canceling practices this week due to excessive heat.

“In order to keep your children, yourselves, and our staff safe this decision has been made for all YMCA locations. Games for Saturday are still on as scheduled. We will continue to monitor the heat as Saturday approaches. Thank you for your understanding and stay cool!” The Y said in an email.

The Derby athletic director tweeted out that the high school’s “Derby Night Lights,” planned for Thursday, had been canceled due to the heat.

“Coaches will make adjustments to practice for that day,” reads the tweet.

Last week, Chris Asmussen, athletic director for Wichita Public Schools said its coaches have a number of ways to beat the heat including having football players take off their shells and helmets.

Coaches determine whether or not athletes have morning practice - but if they want to practice after-school, Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) requires each district to follow a heat activity policy.

USD 259 follows the recommended guidelines - calling for heat protocols when 80 degrees or higher, using a method called the wet bulb globe temperature test. The test measures air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, sun angle and cloud cover.

“We have weather stations built into our stadiums. That takes our readings for us and we take the average for the district. In our plan, there are restrictions for certain degrees and readings of the wet bulb. That will then tell our coaches and athletic directors what they can and can’t do,” said Asmussen on Friday.

KSHSSA used grant money to buy the wet bulb devices and began distributing them to member high schools last summer.

“The nice thing about these devices is they’re getting real time data at their location,” said KSHSAA Director of Operations Brent Unruh, “you know comes up with a formula to spit out a reading that is a little more representative really truly of what the environmental risk might be.”

Kingman’s athletic trainer, who is also a medical doctor, says the devices make it better for athletes and coaches.

“Our kids love it because they know what to expect,” said Dr. Katie Poland, “our coaches love it because it keeps the kids safe.”

KSHSAA also prohibits outdoor workouts past 90 degrees.