A Staten Island High School community is mourning the loss of one of its own after a football player died during practice Monday. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
Intense heat forced the cancellation of football practice for the Curtis High Warriors Tuesday morning, but players say they didn't feel much like practicing anyway. The team is still struggling to come to terms with the death of 16-year-old Miles Kirkland, the varsity player who died suddenly on the field during practice Monday.
"He just passed out. He just fell back," said Esteban Rivera, Kirkland's teammate.
Police say Kirkland went into cardiac arrest during practice Monday morning. Teammates say Kirkland was running late and was forced to run two sprints as punishment. He collapsed in front of the entire team while talking to a coach, and despite attempts to revive him, he was pronounced dead at Richmond University Medical Center.
"It's just crazy. This comes out of nowhere. And it was just football practice," said Viridiana Villegas, a friend of Kirkland's.
Those who knew Kirkland described him as hardworking and dedicated, a team leader. At 6 feet, 2 inches tall and more than 300 pounds, he aspired to play college football after graduating this year and eventually make it to the NFL. He posted a highlight reel online in the hopes of attracting college scouts to take a look at his athletic abilities.
"I think he could have went, but college-wise, I think all he wanted was an opportunity. And that's all he needed, one opportunity to showcase his skill," Rivera said.
Instead of practice, a special team meeting was held Tuesday in which players said their coach reminded them to rely on each other to get through their grief.
"That give them strength to keep on pushing yourself to say 'Hey, do it for Miles, and try to win the game.'" said teammate Tariq Robinson.
In a statement, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said, "I am deeply saddened to learn of this tragic loss and my heart goes out to the family. We will be supporting the school community as we investigate the matter."
Grief counselors have already been deployed and will be on hand when school starts Thursday.
There is no word yet on whether the Warriors' first game, scheduled for Saturday, will go ahead as planned.