Entries in High School (10)


Texas School Basketball Team Rallies Around Player with Cancer

The Nicholas Family(FRISCO, Texas) -- A high school basketball team in Texas is proving the old adage, “there’s no ‘I’ in team,” true by rallying around a senior player diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Justin Nicholas, 18, a senior at Wakeland High School in Frisco, Texas, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in late December after discovering lumps on his body.  Doctors found the cancerous tumors had spread to Nicholas’ lymph nodes, stomach and neck, forcing the four-year basketball player, who had been playing basketball up to a week before his Christmas Eve surgery, to cut his senior season short.

Nicholas’ teammates on the Wakeland varsity team responded by rallying to his aid, holding “pass the bucket” fundraising drives at the halftime of their home games and holding a “shoot-a-thon” to raise money to help defray his medical costs.

“The insurance is paying some of the costs but each time he goes into the hospital [for chemotherapy] it’s a five-day stay,” Nicholas’ mother, Gayla, told ABC News.  “He just did a stem cell collection in case he needs a transplant in the future.  We don’t even have any idea what the total is going to be.”

Nicholas will begin his fourth round of chemotherapy treatment next week. In between his treatments he’s been a fixture on the sidelines and last week he got the chance to shoot the last bucket of his high school basketball career.

The team honored Nicholas on its senior night Feb. 12, presenting him with a signed team poster, the game ball and allowing Nicholas to score the first basket of the game against Heritage High School.

“Justin never thought he’d get to play again so that meant a lot, that his coach did that for him,” Gayla Nicholas said, also noting that the opposing team, Heritage High, gave the family a $500 check -- $100 of their own donations along with $400 raised by another local high school.

In all, Gayla Nicholas says, the basketball team and Wakeland High have raised almost $15,000 for Nicholas and his treatment.  Friends of the family -- which also includes Nicholas' dad, Wayne, and brother, Drew -- and the local Frisco community have also made donations and tributes on his Caring Bridge page.

Nicholas is being home-schooled for his final semester of high school and still planning to attend the University of Arkansas in the fall.  After his fourth round of chemotherapy is completed early next month, doctors will do a full-body scan to see if his tumors are continuing to shrink and then decide on the next course of treatment.

“That’ll be a fork in the road where we have to make more decisions,” Gayla Nicholas said.

The generosity from his fellow teammates and the medical team working to get him well have already led Nicholas towards a major decision himself.

The student, once planning to major in sports marketing in college, is now leaning towards a career in nursing, his mother said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Surgeon General: 1 in 4 High School Seniors Smokes

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Despite decades of anti-smoking education, one in four U.S. high school seniors still smokes. And three in four high school smokers continue to smoke as adults, according to a new report from the U.S. Surgeon General.

"The addictive power of nicotine makes tobacco use much more than a passing phase for most teens," Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin wrote in the 900-page report. "Today, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke. We don't want our children to start something now that they won't be able to change later in life."

Cigarette smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., accounting for about one in five deaths each year. For every tobacco-related death, two young people under the age of 26 become addicted.

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"Unfortunately, most teenagers don't realize that just a few cigarettes here and there can lead to addiction," said Dr. Richard Hurt, director of the Mayo Clinic's Nicotine Dependence Center in Rochester, Minn. "All it takes is a bit of experimenting, and that's what teens do."

Part of the problem, according to the report, is the nearly $10 billion spent annually on marketing cigarettes and making them more affordable.

"It's a sad commentary that these people sit around in boardrooms thinking of ways to replace their customers," said Hurt. "Cigarettes are the only product I know that, when properly used, kill 60 percent of users. The only way to replenish the customer base is to fill the pipeline with young people."

Hurt said cigarette companies are now marketing to young people through social media.

"The marketing people at tobacco companies are way ahead of the rest of us, and they have been for as long as they've been selling cigarettes -- almost 100 years," he said.

On Monday, the U.S. government appealed a federal judge's decision to block graphic warning labels on cigarette packaging. The judge ruled the labels, which depict the health hazards of smoking, unconstitutional.

"It's a quirk of history, an accident really that cigarettes are a legal product," said Hurt, explaining how tobacco was smoked for centuries before its health effects were learned. "This is a product that kills 450,000 Americans every year -- that's three fully loaded 747s crashing daily, 365 days a year, with no survivors. Does anyone believe that if that were to happen tomorrow any 747s would be flying Saturday? Absolutely not."

Although many Americans try to quit smoking, it's no easy task.

"The cigarette is what I call the holy grail of drug delivery," said Hurt. "It's so sophisticated that it gets nicotine to the brains of unsuspecting teenagers within five heartbeats. Anything you can do to speed up drug delivery makes it more addictive. ... But if you ask a 17-year-old, he'll say, 'I can stop whenever I want. I'm just doing it to hang out with friends.'"

Cigarette smoking costs the U.S. $96 billion in direct medical costs and $97 billion in lost productivity each year, according to the report.

"We have the responsibility to act and do something to prevent our youth from smoking," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote in a message accompanying the report. "The prosperity and health of our nation depend on it."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mississippi High School Football Player Collapses in Game, Dies

Thomas Northcut/Thinkstock(GAUTIER, Miss.) -- A Mississippi high school football player died Friday night after he collapsed on the field and could not be revived, making him at least the seventh high school athlete to die since the start of football season last month.

Latrell Dunbar, a junior fullback for D’Iberville High School, fell to the ground after blocking a play in the third quarter of the school’s game in Gautier, said ABC News affiliate WLOX-TV in Mississippi.

Trainers rushed onto the field and applied mouth-to-mouth breathing, working frantically to revive him for the 15 minutes it took for an ambulance to arrive at the game.  Dunbar was then taken to Ocean Springs Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:20 p.m.

Jackson County Coroner Vicki Broadus said Saturday that Dunbar died of an acute cardiac event, which can be caused by hidden heart abnormalities.  In this case, though, according to WLOX, she said it was a fluke event.

This season appears to be tied for the second most lethal summer for young football players, according to records compiled by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research.  There were eight deaths in 1970, according to the center’s records.

From 1980 to 1984, an average of one high school football player died each year during the summer practice season.  But the death rate has roughly tripled to 2.8 deaths per year since then, according to a study released in July by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


High School Football Player Dies; Sixth Athlete Death This Summer

Thomas Northcut/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- It's a football record nobody wanted to set: For the sixth time this summer, a high school football player has collapsed and died after practicing in scorching heat.

Al Smith Jr., a 15-year-old sophomore, fell ill and then fainted Tuesday during his second day of practice with the junior varsity team at Eisenhower High School in Houston. He was rushed to the hospital and died two days later.

While Smith's cause of death has not yet been determined, his case bears striking similarities to the deaths of several other high school players this summer.

All six of the deaths have occurred in the heat-stricken South, and all of the players were enduring one of their first practices of the season. Smith also was heavy-set, as were many of the other players who died.

"He was just a good kid, that's all I can say, a good kid," Smith's father, Al Smith Sr., told ABC station KTRK-TV in Houston. "Whatever happened, I'm lost for words."

This tragic football preseason also claimed the life of an assistant football coach.

Wade McLain, 55, died during the first day of practice at Prestonwood Academy in Plano, Texas, on Aug. 1. He had a heart condition, and was conducting practice in 100-degree heat.

The dangers of student-athletes training in extreme heat create tragedies every year, and the number of deaths has been increasing. But nobody can remember a summer as lethal for young football players as this one. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, this also has been a summer of record-shattering heat.

From 1980 to 1984, an average of one high school football player died each year during the summer practice season. But the death rate has roughly tripled to 2.8 deaths per since then, according to a study last month by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The researchers concluded that two trends—the growing number of overweight and obese players and the increasing frequency of heat waves—are "increasing the risk of heat-related illness and death for high school football players."

The study also found that many deaths occur at the start of the practice season, which it said was most likely the result of young players trying to do too much, too soon.

The first death this summer occurred July 26. Isaiah Laurencin, a 285-pound senior offensive lineman at Miramar High School in South Florida, went into cardiac arrest during his team's second workout session that day.

A gifted player who had three college scholarship offers, Laurencin died a short time later. Autopsy results are pending.

Four days later, Tyquan Brantley, 14, a freshman at Lamar High School in South Carolina, collapsed during practice and later died. The coroner said his death was related to a "sickle-cell crisis" brought on by 101-degree heat.

Two 16-year-old football players in Georgia died on Aug. 2 from heat exhaustion. Donteria Searcy was found unconscious in his cabin after a morning workout at his high school's football camp. Forrest Jones of Locust Grove High School, had passed out after a drill a week earlier, and never regained consciousness.

And in Arkansas, 15-year-old Montel Williams collapsed while wearing full gear an hour into practice at Gurdon High School near Arkadelphia on Aug. 9. The temperature in the area was 93, with a heat index of 110. An autopsy found Williams had a heart condition.

In Houston, administrators at Eisenhower are offering grief counselors to students mourning the sudden death of Al Smith Jr.

"It's just tragic. I mean, to understand that these kids play together, they're friends, they grew up with each other—it's just very painful for the community," one parent said.

A moment of silence was held for Smith and his family before Friday night's game against North Shore High School, but the emotions were just too much for the team to overcome. Eisenhower lost, 51-7.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


High Schooler Returns to Football Field after Heart Attack

Hayward Demison III is back playing football after suffering a heart attack after scoring the winning touchdown last year. (KATU/ABC News)(PORTLAND, OR) -- While it may be just another football season for other players at Central Catholic High School in Portland, OR., it's a blessing for running back Hayward Demison III. Last September, Demison collapsed on the field after scoring a game-winning touchdown. His heart stopped, but a nurse in the stands got it pumping again.

"It's an amazing comeback," Demison told ABC affiliate KATU at one of the team's practices. "God has just been blessing me throughout the whole process."

Doctors discovered Demison had a defect in his left coronary artery that blocked blood flow. They later operated to correct the abnormality but weren't sure Demison would be able to play again. But a year later, Demison took the field during practice once again.

"It healed fine. It took like five months for my sternum to heal, and I was like good to go after that," he said.

Neither Demison's cardiologist nor his cardiac surgeon were available to speak to ABC News. Other experts not involved in Demison's treatment, however, said Demison's heart abnormality was extremely rare. It would not have been picked up during a routine screening.

"It would have been improbable to pick up unless he had presented with chest pain or had undergone a stress test," said Dr. Phil Ragno, director of cardiovascular health and wellness at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

"If a teenager has a heart attack, the causes are really different than what they would be if an older adult had one," said Dr. Steven Lipshultz, chairman of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "The majority of times, adults have atherosclerosis, or a blockage of the arteries."

Depending on the degree of damage to the heart and the cause of the heart attack, it's very possible to recover and participate in sports once again.

"When it does happen, it's relatively straightforward how you deal with it," said Lipshultz. "You take the coronary artery and cut it from where it's connected and stitch it where it actually should be."

After that, Lipshultz said, the amount of damage to the heart muscle and other health conditions that might contribute to additional problems may determine whether the young athlete can return to sports.

One of the leading causes of sudden death in young athletes is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or a thickening of the heart muscle. It can cause a potentially fatal irregular heartbeat.

Young athletes who are treated for this condition are likely never able to participate in sports again, Lipshultz said.

Demison's youth and level of physical fitness also helped his recovery, but he still needs to be diligent about his health habits.

"The things that are going to keep his surgery functional are a healthy diet and exercise," said Ragno. "He had a bypass operation, so he'll need frequent evaluations with his cardiologists and probably yearly stress tests while he continues to participate in sports."

According to the Oregonian newspaper, Dr. John Iguidbashian, Demison's surgeon, said in a press conference after the operation last year that most patients who have the same condition die before they receive medical attention. Demison knows how lucky he is and says he feels better than ever.

"I feel like I was 10 times greater than I was last year, because last year, it was like ... a little tired and dizzy," he said. "Now, I'm just like full go."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Athlete Deaths Force School Sports Makeover in Arkansas

Comstock/Thinkstock(NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) -- This month's death of four high school football players in the heat-stricken South is helping to spotlight a current recalibration of how much physical exertion young athletes can endure -- one change in what is a broader effort to minimize their risk of injury and illness.

For its part, the Arkansas Activities Association now orders coaches to complete online courses in heat-related illness, which has been cited but not conclusively linked to the Aug. 1 collapse of a 15-year-old Arkansas football player with an underlying heart problem that had gone undiagnosed.  He died shortly after collapsing.

Arkansas coaches also must undergo training in methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, a type of staph bacteria that does not respond to antibiotics that have been commonly dispatched to treat staph infections.

Since at least the early 2000s, schools across the country have reported outbreaks of this potentially deadly infection, spread largely through skin-to-skin contact, or through open wounds exposed to the bacteria.  In 2003, a Centers for Disease Control report spotlighted outbreaks of the disease in California, Colorado, Indiana and Pennsylvania.

Last year in Arkansas, one high school athlete died from the infection and another suffered a heart attack.

More immediately, forecasts that the South's heat wave will extend through September have affirmed the state's recent move to limit two-a-day practices -- especially during extreme heat, when the body requires up to 48 hours to rehydrate -- to every other day, and any single practice session to no more than three hours.

Even southern kids are less acclimated to hot spells than prior generations were, what with many of them spending more time indoors rather than outside nowadays, said Dr. Jimmy Tucker, a sports medicine specialist in Little Rock and a member of the state activities association's sports medicine advisory board.

In keeping with that, other rules, patterned partly after those adopted by the NCAA, also require high school players in Arkansas to weigh in before practice and weigh out afterward.

"If they've lost three or four pounds, that's strictly water and they absolutely have to rehydrate," Tucker said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Teen Drug Use Is Number One Health Problem in US, Study Says

Doug Menuez/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Ninety percent of drug addictions begin in high school, according to a new study released Wednesday.

Researchers from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, or CASA, found that nine out of 10 American addicts started smoking, drinking or using drugs before the age of 18 and one in four of those people become addicted to some sort of drug.

"We now have enough science to show that adolescent substance use is America's number one public health problem," said Susan Foster, senior investigator of the study. "By recognizing this as a health problem and responding to it, we can actually make the difference by improving the life prospects of teens and saving costs in society."

Adolescence is a critical period of brain development and experts say the teen years put people at increased danger of addiction because their brains are more sensitive to substances and they're more likely to experiment and take risks.

"The brain is still developing up until age 25, so when you put nicotine and psychoactive substances in the body, it's actually messing with the brain as it's developing," said Dr. Stanton Glantz, director of the University of California at San Francisco Center for Tobacco and Research and Education.  "Nicotine tends to be the gateway drug when kids start smoking younger.  They're more likely to become addicted and smoke for a longer period of time."

Glantz continued to say that smoking creates permanent changes in the brain.  When a person quits, some of those changes reverse, but never completely.  Researchers also know that tobacco, alcohol and other drugs act similarly in the brain, so that the use of one substance heightens the risk of dependence on others.

"Addiction is the most costly health problem in America today, and it drives 70 other diseases that require hospitalization," said Foster.  "It drives a host of very costly health and social problems that are largely preventable. We can do something about it."

Foster said preventing teen for substance use begins with screening young people for their mental health and family addiction history.

Society also needs to move away from a culture that glorifies and promotes substance use as a way to relax or have fun and improve accessibility of available treatment, she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Many High School Students Not Getting Exercise They Need

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Many U.S. high school students are not getting the amount of physical activity they need, according to a survey released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC says youth should be physically active for at least one hour each day and should engage in activities that build muscle for a minimum of three days a week.

But the 2010 National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey found that only 15.3 percent of the teenagers questioned met the aerobic activity suggestion, while 51 percent met the muscle-strengthening one.  When both activities were combined, only 12.2 percent of the students met the objectives.

Furthermore, the survey found that fewer female students, upperclassmen, and students with obesity fulfilled the recommendations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Enlarged Heart Killed High School Basketball Star

Thomas Northcut/Lifesize(FENNVILLE, Mich.) -- The sound of the swoosh ended a thrilling season of basketball at Michigan's Fennville High School, but the victory turned tragic when 16-year-old star athlete Wes Leonard collapsed on the gym floor after shooting the winning basket.

According to Dr. David A Start, the forensic pathologist and medical examiner of Ottawa County, the cause of death was cardiac arrest due to dilated cardiomyopathy -- an enlarged heart -- a condition that often goes unnoticed.

Leonard's game-winning layup, which earned two of his 21 points that game, led the undefeated Fennville Blackhawks to a 57-55 win over Bridgman High School. Teammates hoisted in him the air moments before he collapsed.

"Nobody knew for sure why he had collapsed and was suddenly on the floor," said Tim Breed, a spokesperson for Holland Hospital who was also at the game.

Suspecting possible heat exhaustion, people tried to and cool Leonard down with ice packs while waiting for the ambulance. Paramedics performed CPR and took Leonard to a defibrillator on the court. He was rushed by ambulance to nearby Holland Hospital, where he died two hours later at 10:40 p.m.

What led to Leonard's condition, which prevents the heart from efficiently pumping blood to the rest of the body, is unknown. According to the National Institutes of health, risk factors include heart disease or a family history of it, high blood pressure, vitamin or mineral deficiency, infections involving the heart muscle, and the use of certain drugs or medications.

Thirty percent of dilated cardiomyopathy cases are inherited, according to Dr. Steven Fowler, a cardiac electrophysiologist at the Cardiovascular Genetics Program at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Popular' Students are Most Aggressive Toward Classmates

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DAVIS, Calif.) -- A new study suggests that the more "popular" a high school student is, the more aggressive he or she is toward other students.

The study, published in the journal American Sociological Review, found that a majority of aggressive interactions in schools are not the result of "troubled" or socially marginal students, but rather are tied to social hierarchy.

Researchers at the University of California in Davis studied students in the 8th, 9th and 10th grades across the state of North Carolina. The study found that the more friends a student had, the more students they victimized.

However, those at the very top and bottom of the high school social hierarchy showed the least amount of aggression toward other students, according to the study. Authors say the bottom two percent of students did not victimize others because “aggression usually requires some degree of social support, power, or influence”.  Similarly, the top two percent in popularity were also the least aggressive because “such action could signal insecurity or weakness rather than cement the student’s position."

National estimates suggest that around six million students are affected by aggression in schools each year, although the study found that a majority, 67 percent, of students do not act aggressively toward their classmates.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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