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Mom fights for new high school sports regulations

Posted at 11:23 AM, Mar 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-29 11:25:13-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Nearly a year after her sons death, a Southwest Florida mother is fighting for changes in high school football regulations. 

Zachary Polsenberg, a student athlete at Riverdale High School, collapsed during football practice in June of 2017. He suffered a heat stroke and later died. The offensive lineman, who stood at 6 foot 4, was described as gentle, caring, and protective of those he loved. "He wanted to play in college. He wanted to play NFL and eventually become a police officer," his mother, Laurie Giordano said.

Giordano turned her family's pain into motivation to educate people about heat illnesses, creating the Zach Martin Memorial Foundation. The foundation holds fundraisers, that will help spread awareness through training and education. "Heat stroke is 100% survivable if it's treated in the first 10 to 15 minutes," she said.

Currently, the mom is on a mission to make changes within the Florida High School Athletic Association's regulations for outdoor sports. The agency meets next month, where they may decide whether to implement new requirements, such as having wet-bulb globe thermometers at each practice, and having cold water immersion tubs near the field for easy accessibility. Most schools have the tubs, but are not required to have them near the field during practices.

Another measure she hopes they implement includes coach education. According to Giordano, coaches have over arching health education, but she believes it is important for them to focus on heat illness to be able to identify symptoms in student athletes. 

Pre-season practices for football are starting in April. If the FHSAA gets items concerning new regulations on their agenda for next months meeting, they can be implemented this summer. If not, their next meeting does not take place until June. Giordano believes this puts students at risk for yet another summer. "It's painful. It's painful to talk about. It's painful to think about. But this is Zach's legacy."

If you would like to learn more about the Zach Martin Memorial Foundation, you can visit their website here. Their next fundraiser will be a BBQ at Winn Dixie on Palm Beach Boulevard, on Saturday April 7th from 11 AM - 4 PM.