Trainer helps players not get Fryed
Being a closet meteorologist, Jacksonville University football trainer Doug Frye knew something was brewing as he looked at weather maps from across the country in late July.

Heat waves here and there told him this could be one of the hottest camps in his 12 years with the Dolphins and it turned out his intuition was correct.

“I met with (head) coach (Kerwin Bell) before camp and told him this would be the hottest camp we’ve ever had,’’ Frye said as he watched practice Friday. “And, it was; it proved to be true.’’

Frye describes the heat as “normal Florida heat’’ with heat indexes between 110 and 115 (and at times breaking 120) and an air temperature generally in the mid to upper 90s (and at times past 100). But there was more of it than in the past.

“We’ve never set any earth shattering records, but it gets pretty hot out here,’’ he said. “With our Florida guys that’s a big advantage we have.’’

Frye, who graduated from JU with an athletic training degree, and his staff do plenty In order to help prevent players from succumbing to the heat and that work starts early.

When players report, each has his weight taken as a baseline and as the practice schedule unfolds are weighed before and after each session.

“We have to make sure that they gain the weight back that they lose,’’ he said. “If they don’t, we put them on a watch list and try to help them learn why they aren’t. We hold them out (of practice) until they get the weight back and if they don’t it presents a big issue.’’

The early work also includes educating players to look for signs of heat illness and having a three-day acclimation process in practice where only helmets are used.

“In our initial team meeting we go through heat illness awareness,’’ Frye said. “We educate them on the signs and symptoms of heat stroke and how much fluid they need to replace throughout the day. There’s also a urine chart that shows the level of where they should and shouldn’t be (by color). If it’s a lighter color they’re hydrated, if it’s a darker color they need to drink more. And those first three days of practice are crucial.’’

During practice, the team scheduled more water breaks and Frye and his army of assistants move about the practice field keeping an eye on players and constantly refilling water and Gatorade bottles. He estimates the team goes through about 100 gallons of water and 20 to 40 gallons of Gatorade in any given practice.

Players also have available misting fans in a tented cool zone and the popular ice sponges, sponges that literally have ice and water on them with which to cool off.

Also in use is a “wet bulb’’ that keeps track of air temperature, humidity and the heat index. All three are checked every 15 minutes.

“We’ve had a few more instances of heat exhaustion this season but nothing serious,’’ Frye said. “We remove them from out here before it turns into a serious issue.’’

Post practice, fluids are available in the locker room along with cold tubs and foam rolling to help eliminate lactic acid and flush out the system. Tablets to replace sodium, potassium and other vitamins and minerals also are available and players are given a bottle to continually refill as they rehydrate throughout the day.

His work isn’t lost on the coaching staff.

“He does a great job,’’ wide receivers coach Ernie Mills, who has NFL experience, said. “He makes sure these guys are hydrated right down to the charts in the restroom and knowing the signs of dehydration to rehydrating before you go on the field as much as just waiting until you go on the field and drinking plenty of water.’’ Mills said he believes this was the hottest camp he has seen here.

“Temperature-wise, it was probably three or four degrees hotter,’’ he said. “But, any time you put on those pads in August it’s hot. It’s really hot.

“We had extreme heat and didn’t miss a lot of guys for heat issues,’’ Mills continued. “Doug has done a good job with that and our guys got through it pretty well.’’

- Jim Nasella