Teammates, coaches mourn loss of Caleb Schwab, a boy who loved sports and was a natural leader

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OLATHE, Kan. -- An Olathe soccer team is mourning the loss of one of its own, after 10-year-old Caleb Schwab was killed on the world’s tallest water slide at Schlitterbahn Sunday.

Those who knew Caleb best say sports were his passion.

“Full of life, loved baseball, basketball, soccer,” said Clint Sprague, Caleb’s pastor. “He was always doing something.”

One week ago, Caleb attended his very first practice with a new soccer team with Kansas Rush Soccer Club.

“He was a great soccer player,” said Larry Stotts, Caleb’s new coach. “We were really impressed with the way he showed leadership on the field right away.”

Stotts said he and the other coaches even discussed the possibility of making Caleb the team captain this season.

But that first practice would be Caleb’s last, as he died just a few days later when he braved Verruckt, the world's tallest water slide, at Schlitterbahn in KCK. Police said he suffered a deadly neck injury.

The shocking news hit Stotts like, “A bag of bricks,” he said.

“Unbelievable. Where did that come from? That doesn't happen. That was totally unexpected. He`s a little 10-year-old kid. You're supposed to be joyful and playful, out playing soccer.”

As police continue to investigate what went wrong, Stotts said some of Caleb’s teammates have been trying to make sense of the tragedy.

“The kids who knew him really well were talking about it all day with their parents and it`s a struggle,” he said. “I can't imagine ever. I feel really sorry for the parents – they`re great people. It`s unfortunate for them.”

It’s a sudden loss that's hitting Caleb’s team hard.

“I don’t think they fully know what’s going on,” Stotts said of possibly having to explain Caleb’s absence to the other kids on the team.

On behalf of his team, Stotts is now offering a heartfelt message for Caleb’s family during this incredibly tough time.

“All of us, we're praying for them,” he said. “I mean, I’m sure that's all we can do. Everyone wants to do everything they can for them, but they're probably overwhelmed. They're in our thoughts and prayers continually.”

Caleb also played baseball for the Kansas City Mudcats. One of the league's founders expressed his condolences to Caleb’s family with a Facebook post that reads:

These things are never easy to write, and with a heavy heart we are sadden that we lost Caleb Schwab to a terrible accident today. As a baseball family there are no words to describe the pain in our hearts to lose one of our baseball brothers. It hurts incredibly. Our deepest condolences to Scott and Michele during this time. Please keep the entire Schwab family in your thoughts and prayers.

The outpouring of phone calls/texts from all our Mudcat families wanting to help is so incredibly heartwarming. I will update everyone as information becomes available with what our Mudcat Family is doing to help Scott and Michele in this difficult time.

-Kurt Dunn