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Omaha South football player dies after collapsing from heatstroke, family says

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 1:00 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The family of an Omaha South High School student-athlete said he collapsed during football practice Tuesday afternoon and died when doctors couldn’t revive his heart.

Drake Geiger’s family told 6 News that the 11th-grader was transported to the emergency room from practice.

“It’s hard. It’s hard,” Drake’s sister, Brittany, said. “I just think it’s just shocking that it happened. He was so young.”

He was just 16 years old. The 6-foot-3 tackle was entering his junior year. Tuesday was his first day of practice at South High School’s Collin Field.

The family has set up a GoFundMe account to assist with expenses.

Omaha Public Schools said football practices started Monday, in accordance with Nebraska School Activities Association guidelines.

“We care deeply about our students,” a spokesperson said in the district’s response Wednesday, noting privacy concerns limited what they could share.

It’s been really hot and humid outside — even hotter on the turf.

The area was in a heat advisory all afternoon and into the evening, with the heat index peaking at 106-108, according to First Alert Chief Meteorologist Rusty Lord.

“The coach called me, said they did their first 10-minute drill, and he went up got a drink, came back, sat down, and fell over. Said he had only been at practice 10 minutes... said the EMTs were there taking him up to UNMC,” said Scott Hoffman, Drake’s dad. “We got up there, doctor came and told us he was extremely overheated, and he was very, very sick.”

Drake also played football at Norris Middle School. His family said being on the team wasn’t all about wins and losses.

“He just loved the comradery. He just wanted to be with his friends. That was the main part of it. He wasn’t really about the game; it was about being a part of the team and being with everybody in the sport.”

The school’s principal sent a letter to students and families Wednesday morning, saying they had been in touch with the family and offering advice on how to talk with students about the sudden death.

The principal also said counselors would be available at the school.

Dear South High Community,

We are deeply saddened to share that 11th-grade student Drake Geiger died unexpectedly last evening. We have been in contact with Drake’s family and conveyed our heartfelt sympathy and support.

Many in our community will be affected by this news. South High is a tight-knit community, and we are here for one another. Students may want to talk with you about their feelings. You may see behavior changes in students: loss of concentration, physical complaints or regression. These are common reactions associated with the grieving process. Talking about those feelings and listening attentively will help students and staff cope with such a tragic event. We have attached an additional resource to help.

We will have counselors available at South High from 1 to 4 p.m. to talk with students who need to. If you have any concerns about your student’s reaction to this loss, please contact school counselors or our administrative staff.

Please keep the family in your thoughts during this difficult time.

Sincerely,

Ms. Jodi Pesek, Principal

Letter sent to Omaha South staff and families

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