Mother of fallen Riverdale High athlete fights for changes on football field

Laurie Giordano is still fighting for change nearly one year after her son died of a heat stroke during football practice.

Riverdale High School student Zachary Polsenberg was running drills when he suddenly collapsed on the field. The 16-year-old suffered from internal injuries and fell into a coma after his core temperature was at 107 degrees for more than half an hour.

“As a mother, it’s not something I’m ever going to get past or over. It’s indescribable the pain and the loss,” Giordano said.

Giordano turned her pain into progress with an organization aimed at educating people about heat stroke prevention.

“This doesn’t need to happen. Heat stroke is 100 percent survivable if it’s recognized and treated,” Giordano said.

The Florida High School Athletic Association should meet and talk about changes to their practice policies next month, according to Giordano.

“One of which is for each school to have a wet-bulb globe thermometer. That will give them the temperature and humidity, so a “feels-like temperature”, on their field,” Giordano said.

Giordano said the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee also recommends cold water immersion in practices.

At this time, the Athletic Association regulates practice times and how much water athletes should have. But Giordano said more needs to be done, especially during the summer.

“We need to get these guidelines in place and protect these children,” Giordano said. “If they had been in effect last summer, Zach would still be here.”

Reporter:Brooke Shafer
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