August 8, 2003
Albany- Westover High School coach Jeff Caldwell has been coaching football for 23 years. He's thankful he's never lost a player.
"Fortunately, in 23 years I've never come close and I've always said I thank the dear Lord every day about that," Caldwell said.
Coaches spend a lot of time worrying about their players in the scorching Southwest Georgia heat.
"I don't think our kids are as acclimatized to the heat as several years ago.
But cardiac arrest can happen without warning. In athletes, it's called sudden cardiac death. Dr. Jeffrey Hoopes says it usually can't be predicted.
"It's usually the stress of the activity precipitates an undiagnosed or unknown problem and causes an irregular heart beat and death," Hoopes said.
Knowing other athletes have died makes younger players more aware of their own bodies.
"Whenever I hear about a player doing that, it puts a message to the back of my head thinking don't go to hard if you don't have to," said Tim Milam, a senior at Westover.
"I try to push myself to the max and then once I feel the fatigue, the dizziness, I try to sit down and cool it down a little bit" said Demone Daniels, also a senior at Westover.
There often are no symptoms, but athletes should be aware of chest discomfort, shortness of breath and just not feeling good.
"I always recommend that people just listen to their body," Hoopes said.
And players should let coaches know when their body is telling them there's a problem.