Thursday, June 18, 2009

No more two-a-days?; Porcelli says goodbye to 'Burgh

It was a busy day for high school football, with the first day of practice just under two months away.

The National Athletic Trainers Association announced at its national meeting on Thursday that it recommends high school football teams ditch two-a-day practice sessions for the first week of practices and do doubles every other day in the second week in an effort to combat heat-related illness.
Since 1995, 39 football players from around the nation - at all levels - have died because of heat stroke or similar accidents.

Section II football coordinator Gary VanDerzee, also the head coach at Ravena, said that because of a trickle-down effect - many colleges have already shied away from two-a-days - he wouldn't be surprised if the NYSPHSAA eventually implements the same rule for high school teams.

But high school teams in this area have an interesting challenge in that they have a mere three weeks to prepare for their first game. College teams have the luxury of spring practices and a true year-round atmosphere, making the loss of double sessions that much easier to stomach.

Section II coaches are all well-educated in hydration and heat-related illness warning signs and local teams have escaped the tragedy that has struck in many towns across the country in the past 15 years. Without the daily oppressive humidity that schools in Texas and Oklahoma and Florida may face, NATA's recommendations do not appear to be directed at schools in this area.

Safety, however, is always the first priority of the NYSPHSAA, and if they get a whiff of this idea working well in other locations, there isn't much individual coaches can do to argue with the Safety Panel's decision, should they ever decide to go that direction.

"We’re a pretty adaptable bunch and we would find a way to make it work," VanDerzee said. "We would find a way to keep producing quality teams and quality programs."

Knock on wood, but teams have done well keeping their student-athletes safe in this area of the country in recent years. But what would an elimination or reduction in double sessions mean to the quality of high school football in New York, which already lags behind the Southern states and places like Ohio and Pennsylvania?

"If we do that for New York State high school football, they would need to look at lengthening the season from nine to 11 games," Cohoes head coach James Ducharme said, "because we already play probably the least amount of games of any state already and it just doesn’t match up."

Check out the full story in Friday's edition of The Record.
What do you think? Could teams survive without two-a-days? What about soccer, field hockey and cross country and other sports that start practices in the hot August sun?

Former Lansingburgh head football coach Pete Porcelli was officially introduced as the Albany High Head coach Thursday night at the school's Board of Education meeting.

The Albany job did not open up until early June, when Brian Spicer, who guided the Falcons to an 0-9 record in 2008, announced he would not return. Porcelli interviewed and found it hard to turn down the job, since he had hungered for the position after coaching Albany's lower level teams through most of the 1990s.

"Unfortunately it had to be this late in the game and that doesn’t give me time to prepare the way I want to," Porcelli said. "It’s tough for the kids (at Lansingburgh) because we put in a good six months of training, lifting and running and going to weightlifting competitions, but this just came about and I’m really going to miss the kids."

Porcelli was quick to thank Lee Bordick, Dave Bochette and Dave Kissick, Lansingburgh’s former Superintendent, Athletic Director and Principal, respectively, for the opportunity they gave him in 2001.

Porcelli and Schenectady's Carm DePaolo, who resigned last week, became the latest high school football coaches to step down after successful runs.

Check out the full story in Friday's edition of The Record.

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