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Local high school bands battle the hottest week of the year

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For some, this is the most wonderful yet exhausting time of the year. Local high school bands are taking to the field these next two weeks to gear up for the competitive season.

Carson Vermillion and David Semones are the band directors at Science Hill and Tennessee High, and they both practice similar methods. Rather than taking a few long breaks during the day, they prefer to have the students 'gush and go.' Every 15-20 minutes, the students can run, grab a few gulps of water and get back to work.

This keeps the students focused, but keeps them hydrated and energized. As a former band member, I have experience this firsthand.

Similarly, the two directors preach healthy living off the field.

"They're athletes and we try to make them understand that they need to eat and drink much like an athlete," says Vermillion.

Here's what David Semones had to say. "Before camp, we give them a sheet and I talk to them about it at rehearsals beforehand. It's camp reminders about staying hydrated before they come to camp. They need to get off the couch and start exercising if they tend to be home bodies."

The balance between conditioning and frequent breaks is appreciated by the students, like junior percussionist Adeline Preston of Science Hill. "It's really okay. It's not the end of the world."

To Tennessee drum major, Max Fleming, practicing on the turf is the hardest part. "The turf is way hotter, and if we set our instruments down to take a break we come back and kind of burn our hands."

When I shot an infrared thermometer at the turf, I was amazed. The temperature detected was close to 150°F. That's because of the black beads in the turf that re-radiate the heat.

Not to worry, though. During peak heat, these two bands take their talents indoors and/or in the shade to protect themselves from that kind of brutal heat.

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