Nick Blakely, Not Forgotten

Two years after his death, Hatter football player Nick Blakely continues to leave an impact on his community

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Nick Blakely, Not Forgotten

Stetson University remembers Nick Blakely. Photo courtesy of Stetson University Athletics.

Stetson University remembers Nick Blakely. Photo courtesy of Stetson University Athletics.

Stetson University remembers Nick Blakely. Photo courtesy of Stetson University Athletics.

Stetson University remembers Nick Blakely. Photo courtesy of Stetson University Athletics.

Ihsaan Fanusie, Sports Editor

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“Nick was a very valued member of the university, of the team, and everyone loved him.”

On Aug. 28, 2017, during a routine football practice, the unthinkable happened. Stetson linebacker Nick Blakely passed out on the field and never woke up.

Beloved by his teammates, coaches, friends, and family, Blakely passed away at age 19 on that same day. An autopsy later revealed that he died from an enlarged heart.

 

Since then a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Blakely’s mother, Michelle Wilson, against the school. The lawsuit alleges a failure of Stetson football to take appropriate safety measures when presented with health concerns from Blakely.

 

Wilson’s lawsuit totals over $15,000 for damages including “the loss of support and services of her son, mental pain and suffering, and medical and funeral expenses.”

 

The lawsuit alleges that Blakely was required to participate in trainings and practices throughout the day despite being on certain cough medications for the symptoms of his condition. According to the lawsuit, coaches and trainers continued to push him physically even after Blakely complained of problems.

 

An attorney was hired to represent the school and it’s defendants. Richard Ramsey, who could not be reached for an interview, gave a statement to the Daytona Beach News-Journal: “On behalf of the university, I would like to express to Nick’s parents that everyone involved with this, from administration, to trainers, to the football staff are, and continue to be, incredibly saddened by Nick’s loss. Nick was a very valued member of the university, of the team, and everyone loved him.”

 

“However, the allegations in this complaint are extremely inaccurate. The allegations about what happened that day, about what is required by the NCAA, about how people responded to Nick’s emergency are completely untrue. We are regretful that the lawsuit was filed, and we will make sure that, although we will come up with a rigorous defense to allegations that are not true, we do nothing to sully or tarnish the image of Nick Blakely.”

 

Head coach Roger Hughes said in an interview with the News-Journal: “the No. 1 thing is to not let this tarnish Nick’s memory. I don’t think there’s any doubt that while he’s not here with us physically, he’s absolutely with this team in spirit.

 

In the aftermath of Blakely’s passing, certain measures have been put in place to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring again.

 

Earlier this year, Senate Bill 60 was signed into state law by Georgia governor Brian Kemp (Blakely was a graduate of Archer High School in Gwinnett County, Georgia). The bill, which is named for both Blakely and Jeremy Nelson, a middle school student who died during a recreational basketball game, requires that student athletes be taught the warning signs of cardiac arrest.

 

Michelle Wilson founded the Nick Blakely Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to advancing awareness about cardiac arrest and providing schools with the resources to address it for student athletes, in her son’s honor.

 

The latest developments in the lawsuit have not yet been released. Stay tuned for updates and more information on this story.