Two early season basketball practice deaths draw attention, questions

Two early season basketball practice deaths draw attention, questions

Outside The Box

Two early season basketball practice deaths draw attention, questions

By

Nixon Guillermo was pronounced dead at a local hospital after collapsing during an early season basketball practice at the Patrick School (Photo: Facebook)

Nixon Guillermo was pronounced dead at a local hospital after collapsing during an early season basketball practice at the Patrick School (Photo: Facebook)

The deaths of two teenage basketball players on opposite sides of the country has drawn significant attention and concern.

The two deaths bring the national total of student athletes who have died in game or practice action since the start of the 2015 school year to 11, with eight coming from football, these two from basketball and one from soccer.

In late October, 14-year-old New Jersey native Nixon Geraldo collapsed during a basketball practice at the Patrick School, where he was a freshman. As reported by the New York Daily News, he was rushed to nearby Trinitas Hospital and pronounced dead roughly an hour later. Full autopsy results for Geraldo’s passing were never made public, though it was suspected that some form of previously undiscovered heart defect may have played a role in his death.

Meanwhile, the Patrick School continues to cope with Geraldo’s sudden loss.

“Everyone just heard a thump in the gym,” Chris Chavannes, school principal and head boys varsity basketball coach told NBC New York. “My last vision of him is he had a huge smile on his face.”

Some three weeks later, a girls basketball player in Los Angeles suffered a similarly tragic fate, when Notre Dame freshman Nikki Valdez collapsed during a team practice. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Valdez was immediately treated on site by paramedics before being transported to nearby Sherman Oaks Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

“The Notre Dame community will assuredly come together in faith, as it always does, to comfort and support the Valdez family and one another,” Notre Dame school president Brian Lowart told the Daily News. “Thank you very much for your prayers. … Our focus is on reaching out to the family and trying to support them while consoling our students who were close friends to Nikki.”

Nikki Valdez of Sherman Oaks Note Dame freshman Nikki Valdez collapsed and died during an early season practice (Photo: Facebook)

Nikki Valdez of Sherman Oaks Note Dame freshman Nikki Valdez collapsed and died during an early season practice (Photo: Facebook)

One report of the circumstances surrounding Valdez’s death noted that she had been taking part in a “track run,” at practice when she collapsed and was never revived. As with Geraldo, Valdez’s autopsy has yet to be made public, though it may still be forthcoming in the days ahead.

The two deaths so early in the season has renewed concerns about heart screening youth athletes before they take part in any organized activities. While two deaths across an entire nation in an individual sport do not necessarily present a statistically significant concern, the fact that they have both come within a month is alarming if nothing else.

Latest

More USA TODAY High School Sports