GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — The school year is getting off to a tragic start at Parkview High School after the sudden death of a student.
Michael Jones collapsed and died during a travel team soccer practice over the weekend. Right now, investigators are calling the death a “medical event.”
“Every game he went in there whether it was 5 minutes,” Coach Daniel Klinect said. “He was always the hardest working [kid] on a team and just a passion for the game that he had.”
Klinect, who coaches the boys soccer team, helped Michael hone that passion. He knew him when he ran the soccer fields at the Gwinnett Soccer Association. He was there when the young man made the varsity soccer team as a sophomore.
“Very difficult to do at a school like ours,” Klinect said. “So that kind of shows you the level that he played.”
Now, local high schoolers are trying to come to terms with the loss of a friend and a community wants to know why it happened during a routine practice with the Atlanta Fire United Club – just a few short weeks after two other Parkview students were killed in a crash.
Israel Gaines plays softball at Parkview and saw Jones every day during the school year.
“He seemed like a cool kid; a great kid and I [would] see him every day,” he said. “And now it’s like I know who you are but it’s like I’m going to my junior year and I’m not going to see him at all.”
And in a meeting with the young man’s teammates Monday afternoon, Coach Klinect offered words of comfort to teammates who are now dealing with the frailty of life.
“You got to value life and life is precious and I told them the little things people do in life,” he said. “Your mom and dad drop you off to practice – those are the things you need to be thankful for because you never know what will happen.”
Michael’s funeral is tentatively set for Saturday at Berean Church in Gwinnett. His teammates from Parkview and the Gwinnett Soccer Association will serve as his pall bearers. The booster club is rallying around his family planning a vigil and collecting food items.