As temperatures in the Valley peaked just above 100 degrees Wednesday, football teams hit the field in full pads. At Bullard High School in Northwest Fresno, a Valley Air Alert did not sideline the players, although district officials say coaches are keeping a close eye on air quality and the high temperatures.
With four boys, who all play football, Rachael Brandt knows all about monitoring these unhealthy summer conditions. "I come out and I watch and I bring towels just to keep 'em cool."
Fresno Unified told Action News canceling or delaying an afternoon practice due to poor air quality is up to each school's administration. Coaches say when the mercury rises near triple digits, more frequent water breaks are a must.
Some teams have it easier, like the Bullard High School Club Soccer Team, they always practice in the evening when it's cooler and the air quality is much better. Assistant Coach Daniel Weimer said when the outside air is unhealthy, he's fortunate to have options of where to practice. "Like today, instead of running three miles we only ran a mile. We're over here playing soccer tennis instead of out in the field because I heard it was a red flag day. I'm trying to keep it easy but keep the kids together still."
High school freshman Gabrielle Greiser said she's sure to rest before practice when she knows the day ahead will be filled with heat and polluted air. "It get's a little tiring, but it's part of playing soccer."
Thursday will be another tough day for these athletes, as it's another Air Alert day. The Valley Air District said we may see ozone levels reach critical points again, which could cause some practices to be canceled. The Valley could be fined millions of dollars for violating federal air quality standards.