A high school coach collapsed and needed to be resuscitated Saturday night at the Division I high school girls basketball semifinals.
Rice Memorial’s Tim Rice, unresponsive until life-saving measures were provided in front of a large, silent crowd at Patrick Gymnasium, gave a thumbs up and raised both arms as he was carted off by emergency medical technicians.
Spectators gave Rice a loud, standing ovation.
“His eyes were open and he was talking to me and I told him I love him,” said Mark Pfaff, a Green Knights assistant coach. “And I told him the girls love him and he said to tell the girls he loves them and that he’s sorry. I told him, don’t be sorry.
“He’s a great guy; he’s a giver. He just gives and gives and gives,” Pfaff continued. “Everybody knows him. I’m not surprised by the reaction of the people here.”
Pfaff said Rice did not suffer a heart attack, but the condition was heart-related. Rice is waiting further tests and is resting and doing well at The University of Vermont Medical Center, Pfaff said.
Sunday afternoon, updates on Rice were provided:
The game, which Champlain Valley was leading 30-27 with 59.5 seconds left in regulation, will resume Thursday, tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m., said Bob Johnson, associate director of the Vermont Principals’ Association. Saturday’s second semifinal between Essex and BFA-St. Albans was postponed and will take place following the completion of the Rice-CVU game.
Those plans will be finalized Monday morning. Johnson said they could not continue Saturday’s games after what transpired.
“It’s out of respect for Rice, for the team, for everybody who is here. This was a very dramatic incident,” Johnson said. “And to think that anybody could just come back in a game and have that not have an effect on them — that’s not worth it.
“Who wants to play now after seeing that?”
As the back-and-forth game between two rivals was reaching its end, coach Rice slumped back in his chair on the bench next to Pfaff. But the Green Knights coaching staff quickly realized Rice had collapsed and began waving for help.
Before EMTs arrived, those on scene who responded appeared to administrator CPR and used a defibrillator kit. Rice was unresponsive for several minutes as approximately more than 1,000 fans sat in silence and disbelief. The coach’s family — Rice’s daughter Kylie is an assistant coach — huddled and hugged near the team’s bench.
“It is very scary and it puts everything you do in perspective,” Pfaff said.
CVU coach Ute Otley and her team said a prayer for Rice.
“We are thrilled to see him raise his hands on the way out the door,” Otley said. “It was an incredible relief to us and we are hoping he fully recovers. …It’s just a game.”
Fans in attendance Saturday can use their ticket stubs for re-admittance for Thursday’s game, a UVM official said.