“Go Mean Green! Go Mean Green!” On any given game day in the fall, that would be the chant filling the Apogee Stadium at The University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. The Mean Green is a strong competitor in the Conference USA West and brings people from all over the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and beyond decked out in green, black and white to fill the 30,850 seats in the center of Mean Green Athletic Village. When it comes to game day, the hours of practice the team have put in go to work and it’s show time. But how do the athletes perform their best when outside factors influence them, like the Texas heat which can often extend well into October?
North Texas is hot and humid throughout the football season, which kicks off in the summer with training camp and two-a-days and goes through the fall. Jeff Smith, Senior Associate Athletic Director of Sports Medicine at UNT, says the heat can take its toll on the players.
“Anything we can do to lower the players’ temperature or help them recover can give them a competitive advantage, but it’s also important to just ensure they stay safe,” Jeff said. He explained that the effects of heat compound on each other. “If you start losing too much sweat or water weight, your mental capacity goes down. This means you’re not retaining coaching, not remembering plays and not thinking or playing safe.” He even likened it to manufacturing – if you’re cool then you can think better and are therefore safer and more productive.
Jeff and his team of athletic trainers take several measures to reduce overheating, cramping and the need for intravenous fluids. They rely heavily on hydration through water and sports drinks to ensure players are replenishing the water and electrolytes they’re losing. During recovery, they use cooling towels and ice tubs when they need to get temperatures down quick. They also have a full-time nutrition staff that ensures that each and every player is getting the nutrients they need to stay healthy on and off the field. Another crucial precaution they use is Portacool portable evaporative coolers.
Jeff was first introduced to Portacool products at his last job at another Texas-based collegiate athletic department where he inherited them from a long-time equipment manager. He loved knowing that Portacool was a Texas company and that the products were manufactured locally in Center, TX. Since he first felt the cooling power ten years ago, he has used Portacool portable evaporative coolers as part of his training and wellness equipment during camps, practices and games.
The Mean Green has six Portacool Jetstream 250s that they use to lower temperatures, move air and keep players cool. “Football players are big guys and these products really move cool air around them – they notice a difference,” Jeff said. The athletic trainers fill up the reservoirs and roll the products to their spots on the sideline. On game days, they usually start running the Jetstream 250s as soon as the team comes out for warm-ups and run them throughout the entire game. Whether a practice or a game, they usually only need one full reservoir to provide essential cooling power for the full time needed.
The mobile-friendly features, like the heavy-duty casters and the dual-fill option, allow Jeff and his team to use their Portacools whenever and wherever they need. As a critical piece of safety equipment, all six Jetstream 250s even go on the eighteen wheeler with the rest of the team’s equipment to away games. They’ve been so effective and loved by the players that they have considered using them for other sports, like the UNT soccer team.
According to Jeff, the Portacool coolers are crucial to not only helping players in recovery but also proactively keeping the side effects of heat at bay. Operationally, they are easy to move and efficient, and they are a cost-effective way to keep the team safe, cool and focused on the game. With Portacool, even the Texas heat can’t tame the Mean Green.
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