EMMAUS, Pa. - Temperatures near triple digits mean many athletes must play it safe when playing on the field.
For the Emmaus High School Hornets football team in Lehigh County, reaching for a plastic water bottle becomes more crucial to the team's success than snatching the pigskin.
Unlike in the NCAA, there are no national rules regulating high school teams practicing in the heat.
On scorching days like Thursday, however, head coach Randy Cuthbert said trainers are on hand, breaks are common and water is mandatory.
"Not like when I played and didn't get a water break until the end of practice, they are built in and are constant," Cuthbert said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that heat-related illnesses affect football players at a rate 10 times higher than other sports, which is why doctors said to avoid trading the end zone for the emergency room, water must be the team's MVP.
"You dehydrate much faster in the heat and can heat exhaustion or even heat stroke," said Dr. Susan Krieg, of Sacred Heart Hospital.
But for many high school players, heat isn't so much a health threat, but a rite of passage.
"When it is this hot, it wears on you, makes you mentally stronger, so that's good," said senior Tom Bisko.
When it's this hot, doctors said high school athletes need to drink a liter of water every hour and they need to start hydrating before practice.
Allentown, PA 18102