Walled Lake Central football coach takes no risks when practicing in hot weather

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When it comes to the safety of his football players, Walled Lake Central head coach John Perusse takes no risks.

Perusse, who has been head coach of the team since 2019, knows that his knowledge is better suited for the football field, which is why he likes to keep the MHSAA Model Policy for Heat and Humidity with him when conducting workouts in the summer heat.

“I couldn’t recite it to you by memory, but I always have a copy of it with me in my binder,” said Perusse. 

To help him follow these guidelines, Perusse makes sure to stay in close contact with the team’s athletic trainer, keeping her nearby on days where the weather isn’t forgiving.

“We are fortunate enough to have a trainer, and she keeps all the tabs on this,” said Perusse. “She’ll even text me before practice starts that day like ‘hey, the heat index is expected to hit 97,’ which then she’ll remind me means we need to have a water break every 20 minutes or practice without helmets.” 

Colin Kerch, a graduate of the class of 2020 at Walled Lake Central, played football for all four years in high school as well as spending a year as a coach for the 2022 season.

Being a player recently gave Kerch an understanding of how hard summer workouts are for players. Kerch said he always made sure to tone it down once he could tell the players were really working hard, not wanting them to suffer. 

“I always would try and be a little nicer because I knew how tough it was,” said Kerch. “You have to keep the leash tight, but you don’t have to pull them.”

Bode Hirschman, 17, is preparing for his senior season at Central, playing both wide receiver and safety. Hirschman said that the hardest part of summer workouts are the six-hour practices that begin Aug. 8.

“It’s just a lot of work, six hours straight,” said Hirschman. “We get a lunch in the middle, but it’s just all work for six hours, five days a week.”

Hirschman also said that when players are asked to push their limits, they are never pushed over them, with the coaches and training staff keeping a close eye on them making sure they’re ok.

“The conditioning isn’t too terrible to where kids are passing out,” said Hirschman. “They make sure we’re good and we’re hydrated, and ready to play at 100%.”

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