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‘Kids 1st, game 2nd’, says family of Lee’s Summit West football player who collapsed at practice

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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. -- A Lee's Summit West football player remained in the hospital Friday, three days after collapsing at practice Tuesday because of the heat.

Junior center Jacob Williamson approached a trainer during practice, saying he didn't feel very well and then collapsed. Players who were there say he was unresponsive and taken away in an ambulance.

On Friday, Williamson's family issued a statement about their son, with a reminder about priorities.

"Although he remains hospitalized in a serious condition, Jake continues to improve with each day and we thank everyone for the endless offers of help and prayer. The extremely serious and potentially deadly topic of heat and athletic training under these conditions must remain in the front of everone's mind. All of those involved with our student athletes bear the most awsome of responsibilities and that is caring for the kid first and the game second! Clearly the guidelines in place must be reviewed and changed in order to more clearly administer these responsibilities. Thank you for everyone's prayers as their power is great! We should add that the care at Children's Mercy has been nothing short of spectacular and we thank them also."  

FOX 4's chief meteorologist Mike Thompson said the heat index was 99 degrees during the 3:30 p.m. football practice.

The Lee's Summit School District athletic director says there are restrictions on activity when the heat index is above 95 degrees, and their measurement did not hit that mark. Even so, he says some safety measures were taken.

"Not only were they allowing kids to go to the water, they were taking the water to the kids. They had managers literally walking around making sure the kids stayed hydrated,” Richard Bechard, Lee's Summit School District Athletic and Activities Director, said.


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  • Kids Doc

    As a pediatrician and someone who cares for these athletes, these comments outrage me.
    Exertional heat stroke is not something to take lightly. It causes multi-organ damage/failure and is by far the leading cause of death of student athletes. Football players are some of the most in-shape athletes and yet heat-stroke and heat exhaustion affect them most often. A person can drink gallons and gallons of water but when they are forced to practice in sweltering conditions and to push through feeling sick to run sprints in full pads after 3 hours of practice in a heat index of 99 degrees, no amount of water is going to cool that body off.
    Hydration is an important factor in this, it’s true, and it’s nice to know that the coaches were “allowing” the kids to go for water breaks, but it’s quite obvious that is not enough. Why in the world were they practicing in full pads at 3:30p.m. with a heat index of 99F? The excuse that their internet reading didn’t reach their threshold for heat precautions is not good enough. Jacob could have died. Something needs to be done. It would be very interesting to know how many of those athletes that day were feeling sick with heat exhaustion but were just not pushed over the edge to heat stroke. Please don’t place any blame on the parents in this situation — them talking to the coach or holding their son out of practice because of the hot weather is not really a reasonable expectation. They trusted their son to these coaches and trainers, admittedly it is a huge responsibility to be in charge of someone else’s child, but one that these coaches choose to take on and they are to keep their athletes safe.
    Regardless of right or wrong, the most important issue here is obviously prevention of future occurrences and changing policies and procedures within the program to ensure the safety of the kids. I sincerely hope action is taken to let our kids play football without suffering from preventable illnesses.