Florida mom wants High School Athletic Association to do more after son dies during practice

Florida High School Athletic Assoc. to vote Monday

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. -- A Florida mother is calling for tougher requirements to keep student-athletes safe during outdoor practices. 

Zach Polsenberg of Fort Myers died last year from heat stroke complications at the age of 16.

The junior collapsed toward the end of a summer football workout at Riverdale High School. 

"There were no heat guidelines for cooling zones during practice for the players to cool off, the only mandate was five-minute breaks for 30 minutes of practice," said Zach's mother, Laurie Giordano. 

Giordano is now demanding that the Florida High School Athletic Association mandate Wet Bulb Globe Thermometers to measure humidity at practice, as well as tubs full of cold water near practice fields. 

"If they had gotten him into a cold water immersion tub in the shade quickly, he would still be here," said Giordano. 

A group of FHSAA board members will meet Monday in Gainesville to vote on policy for cooling equipment. 

But Giordano tells our sister station in Fort Myers that the language of the proposal recently changed. 

"The FHSAA has changed the wording to strongly recommend," said Giordano. "Which means there's no requirement, there's no sanction that they don't do it."

"The FHSAA’s No. 1 priority is student-athlete safety," said Kyle Niblett. "To that end, the Association has specifically bolstered its stance centered on Heat Acclimatization, Hydration, Rest and the availability and use of cold immersion tubs and environment monitoring devices such as the Wet Bulb Globe Thermometer. As with the State Statute and FHSAA Policy regarding AED’s (F.S. 1006.165), the FHSAA would mandate each school have and employ the use of heat monitoring and quick cooling devices, provided a similar state statute were in place mandating such."

Steinbrenner High School parents said they support changes to FHSAA policy that provide additional safety measures for student-athletes. 

"I would definitely encourage the voting members to do what they would want done with their children and grandchildren," said Carleen Degolyer. "We all want our kids to be safe and healthy." 

Tampa-based Scripps station WFTS asked Plant High's assistant principal, a voting board member, about Monday's FHSAA meeting. 

A district spokesperson said, "While she has reviewed the recommendations, she has not been able to ask questions or find out more information. That is expected to happen this weekend and on Monday."

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