NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. - High school football season is kicking off in Southwest Florida. But for one team, the start of the new season also marks one year since a nightmare unfolded on their field.
Heat weighs heavily on North Fort Myers High School football players taking to the field Monday.
"I'm sweating, just drenched in sweat, you take your undershirt off and it's just drenched," Big Red senior Zane LaPaugh said.
It's day one of practice, and there's a sense of precaution, after teammate Chase Lopez went down on the field last August, suffering from heat stroke right before his teammate's eyes.
"It's every coach's nightmare on the field," Head Coach Barry Goettemoeller said of last year's scare.
Goettemoeller's Emergency Action plan immediately went into play, and a guide once only read by staff, ended up saving the boy's life.
"They immediately stripped as much of his clothing as they could, and put ice packs under his armpits," Goettemoeller said.
Student aides now stand ready at each and every practice, keeping players hydrated in the heat.
"They're getting water every few minutes. Not every 15, not every 30, not every hour. They're getting constant water," Goettemoeller said.
As for Chase, he's now fully recovered. While he no longer plays for the Red Knights, his story still resonates with teammates taking the field Monday.
"It was really scary, but it just made me hydrate myself more, take care of my body more," LaPaugh said Monday.
NFMHS coaches remind athletes to continuously drink water long before they hit the practice field, to ensure last year's scare never happens again.