Granite Bay Today

Poor air quality because of wildfires affects outdoor athletic practices

Sports teams work hard despite tough air quality conditions

Many+GBHS+athletes+have+been+experiencing+the+challenges+of+training+in+less-than-ideal+air+quality.
Many GBHS athletes have been experiencing the challenges of training in less-than-ideal air quality.

Many GBHS athletes have been experiencing the challenges of training in less-than-ideal air quality.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Many GBHS athletes have been experiencing the challenges of training in less-than-ideal air quality.

Emily Hansen, Sports editor

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   Granite Bay High School has committed, diligent athletes who push through difficult conditions to follow through with their sports.

  Most people only see athletes perform during a game or meet. They don’t always realize how hard the work is behind the scene – at practice.

  “When I started practice as a freshman on the track team it was super hard because I was not in shape at all,” said Joseph Kennedy, now a senior, who runs cross country.

  At GBHS, the cross country team practices six days a week for close to  two and a half hours. These practices consist of Saturday mornings, collaboration days and occasionally Fridays.

  Football also has intense practices that take quite a physical toll on the body.

  “Tuesdays are usually the most brutal,” Bryce Van Order, a senior football player, said. “They’re called Tuesday Bruise Days. That’s where we get the most physical.”

  Sports practices are exhausting as it is, adding weather patterns and nature to the mix only increases challenges.        

  Sports practices are exhausting as it is, adding weather patterns and nature to the mix only increases challenges.   ”

  Due to wildfires sweeping across California, air quality has been a cause for concern for fall sports that practice outdoors.

  “It was hard to run around and breathe all the time,” Dillon Hamilton, a junior on the football team, said. “We didn’t cancel practice but we lifted weights instead of practicing on the field.”

  Principal Jennifer Leighton and Assistant Principal over Athletics, Gregory Sloan, sent an email to the parents and students of GBHS alerting them to the issue of air quality. Leighton and Sloan assured parents that students’ safety is a priority and that specific measures will be taken and are in place.

  In addition, the email informed parents of the Placer County air quality index and how the school will use it to determine safe levels of outdoor activity.

  “When the air quality index reaches 151, teams will not be allowed to hold outdoor practice,” the email stated.

  Regardless, even on days when the air quality index was below 151, athletes practicing outdoors could still feel the effects of the poor air.

  “Breathing is such a big aspect [in cross country],” Kennedy said. “Your lungs just feel like garbage. It makes us have to slow down or take breaks.”

  Athletes on the cross country team powered through their practices however, pushing forward even when the numbers recommended they stop.

  “There were a few days over summer break where we surpassed the index levels, but because school hadn’t started, the school had no say so they couldn’t force us to stop,” Kennedy said.

  Football, another outdoor fall sport involving running, has also had to handle the issue of air quality.

  “We didn’t cancel practice but we lifted weights instead of practicing on the field,” Hamilton said.

  According to Hamilton, the coaches helped by going a little easier on the team and making sure to give them extra breaks. But there’s no doubt the poor air still made practice harder.

  “We didn’t really change the length or physicality of practice [because of the air quality],” Van Order said. “We just toughened through it.”

  There’s a fine line between the dedication and lengths some athletes will go to for their sport and the ability to ensure their own health.     

  Fortunately, coaches and administration at GBHS are taking the necessary precautions to allow athletes to keep doing what they love, while ensuring their safety.

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Poor air quality because of wildfires affects outdoor athletic practices