High school football player dies after collapsing during game
Aaron Heintzelman , Contributor: Chris Hernandez
7:35 AM, Oct 29, 2010
11:49 AM, Oct 30, 2010
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OSAWATOMIE, Kansas - The Spring Hill football player who died
after he collapsed during a game Thursday had just returned from
missing several weeks because of a concussion, his family pastor
Nathan Stiles was playing his first game for Spring Hill since
returning from the injury when he collapsed on the sideline of
Spring Hill’s game at Osawatomie High School.
A woman who says her son plays on the Osawatomie team told NBC
Action News her son saw Nathan intercept an Osawatomie pass and get
hit on the play. Her husband, who was standing on the sidelines,
says he saw Nathan walk to the sidelines and collapse.
District superintendent Dr. Bart Goering confirmed he collapsed
on the sideline, but would not comment on the potential origin of
A spokesman with Miami County EMS says they got a call to
Osawatomie's Lynn Dickey Field about 8:23 p.m. Thursday on a
"It was just a routine play. I don't think there was anything
special," Spring Hill head coach Anthony Orrick told the Miami
County Republic after the game. "I think he just hit the ground
pretty hard with his head. He came on the sideline and told one of
my assistants, 'my head is really hurting.' He sat down on the
bench. He then stood up, but his legs went underneath him and
Stiles’ family pastor told NBC Action News the high school
senior, who was elected earlier this month as Spring Hill
Homecoming King, had bleeding in his brain which resulted in a
seizure and his organs shutting down. He never regained
consciousness after he collapsed.
Pastor Laurie Johnston says the family has been a member of
Hillsdale Presbyterian Church for about 12 years. Pastor
Johnston spent the overnight hours with the Stiles family.
She said there were about 50 people at University of Kansas
Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas, where he was taken by
helicopter ambulance Thursday night, praying for him. Johnston said
Nathan was strong on the field and in his faith. She added Nathan
was active in church, a multi-sport athlete and honor roll
She shared what she believes would be a final message from
Nathan: "If I can speak for him in any way, it would be to call
people to get serious about their life and their faith and how they
“My neighbor used to be best friends with him so he was
always over. Yea, he was my first kiss.”
The following statement was released on behalf of the Stiles
family by The University of Kansas Hospital:
"We greatly appreciate the outpouring of support from the
community over the death of our beloved Nathan. He was an
outstanding young man with a limitless future. We are comforted by
our faith and our friends, and will always be comforted by having
Nathan in our lives. We know there are many questions, some
personal and some concerning broad issues, which people want to ask
us. We ask that you respect our desire and the desire of our family
and friends to deal with all facets of this tragedy in a private
Johnston says Thursday night's game was the first for Nathan
since he was sidelined with a concussion three weeks ago. She
says he was released to play in Thursday's game.
"He'd had a concussion three weeks before, he did not play; he
followed doctor's orders. He was released for the last game of the
season in Osawatomie," said Johnston.
Goering was among those who stayed at the hospital overnight. He
says there was "a lot of prayers, a lot of support, friends,
family, parents…just a lot of concern."
A statement from the district says the Spring Hill High School's
crisis plan has been activated, and counselors are on site for
students and staff. A makeshift memorial was being formed outside
the school Friday afternoon by a brick with Nathan's name on
"The district's primary concern is for the Stiles family and the
many students and staff members that are affected by this tragedy,"
the statement said.
Nathan was one of 267 seniors from high schools in Johnson
County who were recognized by the University of Kansas for their
academic achievements and named Kansas Honor Scholars earlier this
month at a reception at Gardner-Edgerton High School.
Nathan was the son of Miami County Commissioner Ron Stiles.
Spring Hill won the game 99-72. Nathan had scored two touchdowns
in the game.
Nathan would have turned 18 on Tuesday.
Nathan's death is the latest in a string of football-related
deaths across the country. Earlier this week, a
Notre Dame student died when a tower he was
filming football practice from collapsed.