Where's the water? Schools not allowed to supply "hydration stations"

by Chris Renkel & Stephanie Kuzydym, WKRC

Thursday, August 13th 2020

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Water: One of the three basic needs in life.

Yet for athletes around Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, that need is left up mostly to minors. Communal water bottles are not allowed based on COVID-19 guidelines from the National Federation of High Schools and all three state athletic associations.

Simply put, kids bring their own. And there's often no way to refill. That's because in earlier plans, "hydration stations" were not allowed.

Now, schools don't know whether they can use the same water source to refill water bottles. Athletic departments tell Local 12 Investigates they aren't supplying equipment like a cooler or water boy, and kids are showing up sometimes with a 16-ounce water bottle. And that's likely not enough.

“When you become dehydrated, what happens is your heart rate starts to go higher because it can’t push that blood to the skin,” said Robert Huggins, the Korey Stringer Institute’s president of athlete safety. “Your core temperature thus will also start to elevate at a rate that, you know, you’re not able to cool as efficiently.”

The amount of water needed for every athlete depends.

“It's very individualized for each athlete,” Huggins said.

The Korey Stringer Institute (KSI) was created to prevent sudden death in athletes after Korey Stringer, a former Ohio State All-American, died of overheating in August 2001.

KSI says the best way for an athlete to tell how much water they need is to weigh themselves before and after every practice and replace about 80% of what was lost.

In Mason, the water coolers and bottles are collecting dust.

“If we used our own water bottles here, the Powerade bottles, then we have to purchase a disinfectant to spray down the bottles occasionally. That’s what the OHSAA requires,” said Christina Hare, Mason’s athletic trainer.

So the plan for this fall right now in Mason is:

“Everyone brings their own water bottle,” Hare said.

Local 12 emailed Lt. Gov. Husted's office to discuss what is being done to make hydration a priority in August. We still haven't received word back.

The Korey Stringer Institute told us about several touchless water options, like this foot pedal.