MCMINNVILLE, Ore. - Seven McMinnville High School football players were rushed to the hospital during an immersion football camp Wednesday and three had to undergo surgery.
At first no one would speak to the media about the incident. A reporter was kicked off the high school campus Thursday and it was only after she made it clear she wasn’t going away did the superintendent of McMinnville Public Schools, Maryalice Russell, agree to comment.
The McMinnville High School football camp started Sunday as an overnight immersion football camp. Students say it is something new this year under the direction of the school’s new football coach Jeff Kearin. He started it when he came to McMinnville from a coaching job in California.
By Wednesday several players noticed their triceps were swelling and seven were taken to the hospital where the three who underwent surgery had fluid reduced in their arms.
Two of those players still have not been discharged.
Russell said the doctors diagnosed the players with “compartment syndrome.” It causes soreness and swelling and could be related to exercising in the heat, not drinking enough water or the kind of exercises the players were doing.
When asked if the coach took things too far, Russell said, “You know, I don’t know that. And it’s too early for me to make that determination.”
She said the district is investigating why the teenagers’ triceps swelled up.
“Seven kids in the hospital is not acceptable for us,” Russell said. “We’re looking into this matter very seriously.”
Nobody from the high school or the athletic staff is commenting on the immersion football camp, but some students have heard about it.
“I did hear that they were staying at the high school for about a week with no outside connection,” said Danii Miller, a high school sophomore.
“Usually there is not an overnight camp,” said Patrick Caudel, who is a former McMinnville High School student. “It’s only during the day and so many players going at once (to the hospital) would be almost coincidental. I don’t like the sound of it, no.”
According to Russell, the exercises Kearin ordered the team to do he’d done successfully with other players at his last coaching job.
“The doctors we’ve spoken to also think this is very rare and unusual, and so I don’t think anyone would have anticipated this outcome, including the coach,” said Russell.
In light of these players being rushed to the hospital, the team did not exercise on Thursday. They will do a light workout on Friday and the camp is ending a day early.