FHSAA requires coaches, student athletes to take heat illness education

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Zachary Polsenberg. Photo via Kathleen Johnson

Claudine Polsenberg wants more safety measures on school fields after her 16-year-old stepson died to heat stroke during summer football practice.

Riverdale High School student Zachary Polsenberg was running drills when he suddenly collapsed on the field in June 2017.

The teen suffered from internal injuries and fell into a coma after his core temperature was at 107 degrees for more than half an hour.

The Florida High School Athletic Association took a vote Tuesday that now requires heat illness education for coaches and student athletes.

“We talk to them about the things they need to do from a hydration stand point,” head football coach Sam Sirianni said.

Cold water immersion tubs remain as a recommendation from the FHSAA — it’s something Claudine feels could have saved Zachary’s life.

“They can survive a heat stroke, if the tub is there, the ice is there, and they know how to submerge someone in it,” Claudine said.

Every Lee County school has at least one cooling tub and are working on getting 14 wet-bulb thermometers that measure heat index by the start of the 2018-2019 school year.

“When simple things can be done about it, to me it’s a no brainer. And it should be done so we can save kids lives,” Claudine said.

The FHSAA does not enforce heat safety requirements during the summer — which is when Zachary died.

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