JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars aren't the only team in town prioritizing the health and safety of its players in 2020. Athletic programs around Duval County are taking every precaution to keep student athletes safe and keep them playing sports this season. This week the Jaguars Foundation partnered with Whataburger to equip athletic trainers at all Duval County public middle and high schools with hydration equipment to support physical distancing in their battle against COVID-19.
"The benefits of youth sports cannot be understated, and we want to do everything we can to make sure they can continue in as safe a manner as possible," said Jacksonville Jaguars Director of Player Development and Youth Football Marcus Pollard. "It's great to have Whataburger as a partner so we can provide equipment that supports our First Coast athletes in two ways – hydration and social distancing."
The Jaguars and Whataburger provided 116 hydration apparatus to Duval County Public Schools, including 17 high schools and 24 middle schools. The gallon-sized containers each have a spray nozzle that allow athletic trainers to stay several feet back and direct a spray of water toward a player. This eliminates the need for shared water bottles or water fountains and eliminates close personal contact, while still allowing the student athlete to get the hydration they need. The hydration equipment can be used by the athletic trainer for any team sport.
"This is a special year for our world, especially when you consider the fact that we're here in Jacksonville, Florida where hydration would probably take precedence over anything when you talk about football practice," said Christopher Foy, head coach of Andrew Jackson High School football. "It's a contact sport, however we want to stay socially distant. Once you touch it, you got to wipe it down. Now a spray bottle is as common as a whistle for a coach. But this is a different year, and it's good to see the Jaguars out here helping us out with that."
Athletic trainers from all local schools came by Lot J at TIAA Bank Field today to pick up the donated equipment, with Whataburger representatives on hand to distribute and share information about their new school dining program.
"With all the COVID measures, we know it's tough for these high school players and athletic direct to get proper hydration," said Ross Shackelford, brand development coordinator for Whataburger. "We love being able to reach out to our community and provide things that really make a difference."