GREENSBORO, N.C. — A 14-year-old student collapsed during a summer football workout Monday afternoon at Walter Hines Page Senior High School in Greensboro and later died, Guilford County Schools officials said.
Karson Cross was at the workout — the first workout of the summer — which began at 5 p.m. Monday. Workouts are optional, practices are required, school officials said.
At about 5:40 p.m., Cross became ill, was treated immediately and then taken to the hospital. School officials found out Tuesday night that he had died.
The student’s parents were both present.
Cross would have started at Page in the fall. A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family.
According to the GoFundMe page, “Karson will be remembered as a bright, intelligent, respectful, and athletic young man who exuded vibrancy and passion. Karson’s parents, Kerry and Gretchen Cross, were at Karson’s side through the entire tragedy. Karson was transported to a local hospital and in the early hours of June 14th, was flown to UNC Chapel Hill for more definitive care. Hours after arrival, and despite the best efforts of some of the finest doctors and nurses, Karson passed away.”
Principal Patrice Faison emphasized that even though Karson hadn’t started school at Page yet, he was considered a Pirate.
“Talking to his mom today, I felt like I got to know him. I saw from just looking and trying to get a sense of who he was,” Faison described. “He was a great student, an A student. He loved football, loved all sports. He was very passionate, according to mom and dad, about what he did, regardless of what it was.”
GCS Director of Activities, Athletics and Driver’s Education Leigh Hebbard said Wednesday, “Our thoughts are with the family. Obviously this is a devastating occurrence. And it also has an impact on other team members and students who might have known him. Grief counselors are made available for any students who might need that. And we just want to make sure the parents know we’re there to support them and help them any way we can.”
Hebbard said there’s always water available at football workouts and practices, they encourage water breaks every 20-30 minutes, and that physicals are required of all football athletes.
He did not feel Monday was overly hot. “The heat restrictions come in when the temperature and humidity get extremely high. Monday was not a day that… the temperature was somewhere 85 or 86 or 87 degrees depending on where you were in Guilford County. The relative humidity was down around 25 to 26%.”
He said those numbers are the low end of anything that would generally cause concern.
Just this Tuesday, GCS head football coaches took a training course called “Heads Up.” It was already scheduled. Though it focuses on football techniques, it also addresses identifying concussions, heat illness, cardiac arrest and other emergencies. Hebbard said they take this kind of training very seriously.
Faison added, “I just want parents to know that we love and treat their kids like they’re our own. We take summer workouts seriously. We always review our policies and procedures and make sure they are being hindered to…. You can’t imagine what this family is going through so we need to be sure that we keep them in our prayers.”