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'He broke down in tears': Lind-Ritzville/Sprague's Nick Labes overcomes blood clot to contribute to undefeated season

The Broncos are undefeated and ranked #5 in the state this year. After the first practice of last years' season, Nick Labes received devastating news.

RITZVILLE, Wash. — The Lind-Ritzville/Sprague Broncos are having a phenomenal season thus far.

They’re undefeated and ranked 5th in the state going into this week. 

For Broncos wide receiver and defensive back Nick Labes, he’s enjoying every moment after a scare last year threatened to take the game away altogether.

On Feb. 9, Nick Labes went to Lind-Ritzville/Sprague’s first football practice of their Covid delayed 2020-2021 season. He left knowing something wasn’t right.

"We started running, and my leg started to get stiff," said Nick. "I stood off to the side a little bit and then joined back in as it got better. It just kept getting worse at practice. Eventually practice was over, and I went home and told my parents my leg hurt, and we went in the next day."

"It was kind of ironic," recalled Adam Labes, Nick's father. "Because the night before when he came home from practice, and he said his leg hurt, she’s like (Nick's mom), 'Oh, it’s probably a blood clot.' I said, ‘He’s 15. He doesn’t have a blood clot.’"

Mom apparently does know best. 

Doctors in Medical Lake told him he had a blood clot with 100% blockage in his leg. 

It was shocking for everyone, as Nick was a healthy 15-year-old at the time.

"Like an upper cut to the chin," said Adam of how he felt when he received the news. "All the stories you ever hear about blood clots are bad."

"They said it was potentially life threating, and that hit me so that sucks. Just thinking I’d never be able to play with the guys again," said Nick.

Due to being on blood thinners to deal with he clot, doctors told Nick he could not play football for the time being and that depending upon how the treatment worked, his athletic career could be over.

"He broke down in tears, and I had to look the other way because I almost did too," said Adam.

Nick spent a night in the hospital and then returned home. 

What he did next shows you exactly how resilient he is.

"First thing he said when we got in the car was, 'Drop me off at practice.' We’re like, You just got out of the hospital.' He was like, ‘I’m going to practice," said Adam.

Nick never missed another practice that season. 

Finally, on August 9th, just weeks before high school football practice began this season, Nick was cleared to play. 

He returned to the field and was honored with the highest honor a team can bestow on a fellow player: He was named a captain.

"It felt good just knowing that I impacted the team that much even though I wasn’t able to play with them," said Nick.

It’s been a dream season for the Broncos so far, but for the Labes, it just means more.

"It could’ve never happened," said Adam. "We knew this group of kids was a good group. We’d been waiting for five, six years now to get here, and it almost got ripped away from us."