Even before the first kickoff, the late-August heat wave is affecting area football games.
Several schools have pushed back the start time of Friday’s season openers from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., hoping to catch a little break from the sun. Blue Springs South at Truman, Polo at Van Horn and Oak Grove at Lexington are among the games now scheduled to start an hour later.
Truman activities director Eric Holm said the first thought of pushing back the kickoff came Sunday.
“Yesterday we saw the forecast, and immediately everyone was concerned with the heat,” Holm said. “I talked with (Blue Springs South) and they were fine with it.”
The South-Truman game is at Independence All-School Stadium, one of many area fields that sports artificial turf with crushed rubber and has the natural drawback of sucking in heat.
“There’s no question it’s a few degrees warmer on the turf because the rubber pellets,” Holm said. “But turf or not, with no school the next day, it just made sense.
“Another thing is our locker rooms are not air-conditioned, and you’re cramming a lot of kids in there. You would be getting kids in there at 5 o’clock. By just pushing it back an hour, it takes the edge off a bit.”
“The sun will be almost down by 8 o’clock,” Van Horn activities director Chris Corrie said. “It’ll be a lot cooler.” Van Horn uses Truman High School’s stadium for its most of its home games, so Corrie also had a logistical reason to delay kickoff.
“They’re going to use their locker room at Truman before their game,” Corrie said of the Patriots. “Eric Holm and Truman have been great to work with. We use three different locker rooms at Truman, so we shuffle it up enough.”
“We kind of have to play traffic cop with the locker rooms,” Holm added.
SWIMMING FALCON: Swimmers from Truman and William Chrisman are being joined by a third high school this season at the Henley Aquatic Center.
Van Horn freshman Harrison Rice, who moved from Texas in time to swim in the middle school season last year, will compete for Falcons this season. Trevor Tomney, the director of Henley Aquatic Center who coaches the Truman and Chrisman teams, said there have been other curious athletes from Van Horn who have tried the sport since practice started on Aug. 12 and decided it wasn’t for them.
“They come and they go,” Tomney said. “We’re trying to get them to stay.”
Tomney said assistant coach Jeff Nunn is trying to drum up a few more possible swimmers at Van Horn, where Nunn teaches. Come winter, he anticipates having a couple freshman girls who swam last year in middle school. In both cases he’s hoping to have enough swimmers for a relay team.
According to the Independence School District website, Van Horn’s swim team was disbanded more than 30 years ago when the school was still part of the Kansas City School District.
“Our middle school program, we’ve had that for six years, and we opened it up to Nowlin (Van Horn’s feeder school) last year,” Tomney said. “The natural progression is if you have a middle school team, are you then going to have it in high school?
“With the facility we have and me already coaching, it’s minimal cost, mostly uniforms and a banner,” he said. “Transportation does a great job getting Harrison here. The teams get along real well.”