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High school football player dies after collapsing from heatstroke, family says

Drake Geiger’s family told 6 News that the 11th-grader was transported to the emergency room from practice.
Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 11:07 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT/Gray News) – An 11th-grade student-athlete collapsed and died during football practice when doctors couldn’t revive his heart.

Drake Geiger’s family told WOWT the 6′3″ tackle was taken to the emergency room within 10 minutes of his first day of practice at South High School’s Collin Field.

He was just 16 years old.

Scott Hoffman, Drake’s dad, said the coach called him to let him know his son was being taken to the hospital.

“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,” Hoffman explained. “[The] doctor came and told us he was extremely overheated, and he was very, very sick.”

According to First Alert Chief Meteorologist Rusty Lord, there was a heat advisory in the area at the time, with the heat index peaking at 106-108.

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

Drake’s family said playing football was more than just wins and losses to the teen, it was about 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,” Drake’s dad said.

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.

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.

“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,” Principal Jodi Pesek wrote in the letter.

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

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