An Omaha South High School football player died Tuesday after collapsing at practice.
Drake Geiger, 16, and other players had just taken a break to drink water after about 10 minutes of practicing, his father, Scott Hoffman, said he was told. Drake was walking back to practice and fell over, Hoffman said.
Just after 4:25 p.m., the Omaha Fire Department responded to an emergency call to Collin Field, South’s football and soccer stadium. They took Drake to the Nebraska Medical Center.
He was rushed to the hospital “with CPR being performed,” his sister, Brittany Hoffman, wrote on the GoFundMe website, where the family is seeking help with funeral expenses.
“They began to try other procedures to try and revive him,” Brittany Hoffman wrote. “With great sadness they were not able to save him.”
Scott Hoffman said hospital staff worked on his son for three hours.
“He just didn’t pull through,” the father said. “They said his body temperature was extremely elevated and they couldn’t get it down.”
Scott Hoffman said his son would have been a junior at South. Drake was 6-foot-3½ and 389 pounds, Hoffman said, but he didn’t have any medical conditions and had never been to a hospital.
“He was a big kid,” he said, “but he was a healthy big kid.”
The family had recently returned from a trip to Las Vegas and California, where Hoffman said it was extremely hot. Drake had no problems there, he said.
The temperature at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Omaha was 91, but the heat index was between 100 and 106. The National Weather Service had issued a heat advisory for Tuesday afternoon.
A chart on the Nebraska School Activities Association’s website recommends modifying practice and taking water breaks every 15 to 20 minutes when the heat index is between 90 and 104 degrees.
Between 105 and 124 degrees, it recommends modifying practice and says players should wear only T-shirts and shorts and take water and rest breaks every 15 minutes. No practice is recommended when the heat index hits 125 degrees or higher. The NSAA notes that the chart “should be used as a guideline only — individual reactions to the heat will vary among your athletes!”
Tuesday was Drake’s first day at football practice, his father said, because his physician had forgotten to sign the papers after his physical and he couldn’t practice Monday. The team was in shorts and no pads Tuesday, Hoffman said.
Drake played offensive and defensive tackle, his father said. He had played football at Norris Middle School and played for South in 2019. Omaha Public Schools teams didn’t play in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter sent Wednesday morning to South High families, Principal Jodi Pesek said, “We are deeply saddened to share that 11th-grade student Drake Geiger died unexpectedly last evening. We have been in contact with Drake’s family and conveyed our heartfelt sympathy and support.
“Many in our community will be affected by this news. South High is a tight-knit community, and we are here for one another ...
“We will have counselors available at South High from 1 to 4 p.m. to talk with students who need to ...
“Please keep the family in your thoughts during this difficult time.”
Scott Hoffman said Drake “was the nicest kid there could have been. He never got into any trouble. He was friendly, and everybody liked him. His goal was to be a part of the team.”
Drake also is survived by his mother, Chantell Geiger. He has four sisters. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday, his father said.
World-Herald staff writer Kelsey Stewart contributed to this report.