August 2, 2011

Heat determined as factor in McClain death

The intensive heat wave that is gripping Texas has contributed in claiming the life of a longtime high school football coach in the state.

Wade McClain, a 55-year-old assistant football coach at Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Academy, died Monday afternoon shortly after collapsing at a break during the school's first day to practice for the season.

According to assistant coach and longtime friend Jim Strother, McClain was leaving the field for a prolonged break and collapsed before he entered the field house. A team trainer performed CPR and an automated external defibrillator unit was used prior to the arrival of paramedics.

The Collin County medical examiner's office announced Tuesday that McLain's cause of death was determined as a combination of extreme heat and underlying heart conditions.

Monday was the 31st consecutive day temperatures reached at least 100 degrees in Texas.

McClain, who was the defensive coordinator of the football team, also was an assistant baseball coach and history teacher at the private school affiliated with Prestonwood Baptist Church. A prayer service was held Monday night on the football field.

In a press conference Tuesday morning, Prestonwood Baptist Church pastor Jack Graham said McLain did not tell anyone that he was feeling ill nor did McLain have any preexisting medical condition.

"He showed no signs of having issues on the field. He received the best care possible," Graham said. "We're certain of that. There just wasn't much we could do."

McLain's wife, Becky, also works at Prestonwood Academy. The couple has five children. Their youngest son, Christian, is a senior at Prestonwood and plays on the football team.

A statement was issued by PCA head coach Chris Cunningham: "Wade McLain has left a tremendous legacy as a coach, teacher, husband, father, and friend. So many lives, including my own, have been blessed so much by the life Wade lived for Christ every day."

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George Adams, a former NFL player and youth coach in Plano, was a friend of McClain.

"I always enjoyed talking to Coach McClain," Adams said this morning. "He was a great guy who loved kids and Jesus Christ. It's sad to say but he went out doing what he loved. Working with kids on the football field and spreading the name of Jesus."

Prestonwood won its second consecutive Texas Association of Private Parochial Schools (TAPPS) state title with a 38-35 win over Fort Worth Nolan in the TAPPS Division I final in 2010. The school has more than 1,400 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

Texas is experiencing the hottest summer on record at a time many schools are conducting two-a-day football practices. Coaches have to deal with the uncertainty of practices due to the oppressive heat and the health dangers associated with the sweltering weather.

Even by Texas standards this heat wave is extreme. The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for much of Texas with highs climbing to 110 in Dallas on Tuesday with hotter weather in the forecast.

Last month in Texas was the hottest July in many places since records began according to the NWS.

The University Interscholastic League, the governing body for public Texas high school sports, limits preseason practice to five hours per day total during two-a-days with no session longer than three hours. Players must get at least one hour's rest between workouts. The National Athletic Trainer's Association recommends three hours between workouts.

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