SWFL family who lost their son says new heat illness policies aren’t enough

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A family who lost their son after he died from a heat stroke at football practice wants to make more safety changes across the country.

Starting today in Southwest Florida, schools are required to provide heat illness education. But some say that might not be enough.

For sophomore wide receiver Kyrie Savoy, he knows just how hot football practice can get.

“I had a friend who hasn’t had a heat stroke but they throw up from the heat,” he said.

It’s something no coach or parent wants to see. That’s why starting Monday, coaches and student athletes like Savoy are now required to watch a heat illness training video.

“It’ll be good for us to watch the video and get some knowledge about what’s going on around us and what we need to do,” said one student athlete.

The changes stem from the sudden death of 16-year-old Zachary Polsenberg who died at Riverdale High School last year.

“Heat illness is really on a lot of people’s minds right now. I don’t want that to go away in a year or two,” said Laurie Giordano, Polsenberg’s mother.

Giordano has been pushing for change for a year now, and while she’s happy to see something being done, she says it’s only the first step.

“This isn’t just for football, these policies are for any sport that practices outside in the heat, in the summertime, during school. It has to be a policy of protection for our kids,” Giordano said.

Polsenberg’s stepmother, Claudine, adds that they want a national “Zach’s Law.” It would make cooling tubs and thermometers available and mandate education for all athletes and coaches.

“It’s a good first step, I’m so excited about it, but I really want to see a policy in place. I want to see more awareness around other sports as well,” Giordano said.

The bottom line: no one wants another athlete to meet the same fate as Polsenberg.

“There has to be somebody looking out for our kids when we drop them off at practice,” Girodano said. “I miss my son.”

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