MCMINNVILLE, Ore. -- Seven high school athletes were rushed to the hospital during a football camp in McMinnville, including three who had to undergo emergency surgery, district officials confirmed Thursday.
Jeff Kearin, the new head football coach, was running what he called a “total immersion” camp at the high school which involved the team staying overnight on the campus and attending three practices a day, including weight training.
Wednesday afternoon, several students started experiencing major swelling in their arms and they were transported to Willamette Valley Medical Center. In addition to the three who already underwent surgery, four others were being monitored around the clock and may also need surgery, according to McMinnville School District Superintendent Maryalice Russell.
"It's heart-breaking," injured player Greg Cordie told KGW from his hospital bed. "I love this game."
"He pushed us too hard, and here we are," Cordie added.
The young athletes’ parents were outraged. Jim Cordie said he’s worried his son’s entire football career could now be ruined.
“This ain't the NFL, this ain't college. Stop bringing these college coaches in and pushing these kids so far. They're still growing. They're still kids. They just want to play for fun," he said.
"We're as concerned as they are," said Superintendent Russell. "I mean, there's no reason why we want any student to have to take a visit to the hospital as a result of what may happen in a football camp or any other camp for that matter."
Despite the problems, the football camp was not cancelled, but did end one day early, Russell said. It began on Sunday and had originally been scheduled to end on Saturday. All the parents were given the option to pull their children from the camp, but all chose to stay.
As for the hospitalized students' rising medical bills, Russell said the district was considering whether to cover the costs. She also said that the district was considering whether any members of the coaching staff should be disciplined.
Kearin was just recently hired to lead McMinnville's football team. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, his last coaching job was for Los Angeles Loyola High School. He left that job in 2009 after five seasons and one Division I championship.
(KGW reporter Chris Murphy contributed to this article.)