South Omaha community, schools pay tribute to football player who died after collapsing in training

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Two weeks ago, 16-year-old Drake Geiger collapsed during the opening minutes of the year’s first football practice.

Geiger was rushed to hospital, where he later died of heatstroke, his family said.

As the high school football season kicks off, several teams are doing what they can to honor the boy.

“Tons of family, friends, community outreach and even people we don’t know has been great and it helps us get along every day,” said Scott Hoffman, Drake’s father. .

The Gross Catholic High School Cougars will wear Drake’s name and number on their helmets this season, to honor Drake, his family and support the South Omaha community.

“I was, you know, blown away by the support we received from all of our parents and the decals are awesome, it’s a great way to show the camaraderie of South Omaha and truly honor Drake and his family and the whole football community, ”says Tom Van Haute, Gross football coach.

When he heard the news, Van Haute said he and his team were shocked.

“I was taken aback, it’s a very scary situation and the first thing you think of is family but then you also think of your own players, and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t on my mind especially with the heat here recently.

The idea behind the decals started with several parents of soccer players in Gross – a combination of Gross and Omaha South alumni.

“It’s just a very small room, they won’t think about it every time they put their helmets on but they are going to think about him, and the other teams they are going to play will see that and hopefully carry on. think about it and keep his memory alive on the football fields, ”says Barb Brennan, who has several children at Gross High.

“It’s not their friend or someone they went to school with, but I think it touched them in a way because they think about themselves and their own friends.” , said Brennan.

The sticker ideas came about thanks to a small business in southern Omaha, run by another former Gross. The online clothing company, Leni + Lou, donates a portion of each sale to charities in southern Omaha and beyond.

“I was able to do this easily, then I ordered an additional quantity which I sell on the website, and I will donate all the profits to the family,” says Miranda Engelkamp, ​​owner of Leni + Lou. .

Engelkamp also currently sells Nebraska shirts on their site, and includes a Drake sticker with every order. Proceeds from these sales will go to the National Center for Sports Safety.

Engelkamp and Brennan say the culture of southern Omaha runs deep and when someone is in need there will always be a helping hand nearby.

Omaha Gross players and parents also raised money for the Geiger family and purchased enough helmet stickers for the entire Omaha South football team to wear throughout the season.

“Oh that’s cool, I mean, it just helps heal the heart, the shedding of them wearing the decals, South wearing the decals,” Hoffman says. “Then we were also contacted by several schools, Gretna sent us a signed soccer ball, we received flowers and stuff from many schools in the area. It’s pretty great, Drake would have been amazed.

Hoffman says the entire Omaha South football team attended Drake’s visit and a number of them attended the funeral.

“They even stood on both sides of the coffin while it was loaded, so that was also pretty impressive,” he says. The team’s players and coaches also wrote letters and notes to Drake’s family, sharing memories and messages of support, and compiled them into books for his family to keep.

“It’s just amazing,” Hoffman says.

Hoffman says his family hopes in the future to donate equipment to the school and set up a scholarship fund in Drake’s name. Everything to create a positive outcome to the tragedy they faced.

A petition has also been created by Drake’s family to get the attention of the Nebraska School Activities Association, in hopes that they will change their guidelines on the heat index.

6 News has contacted the NSAA, who say the case is under review.

“The easy answer to this question is yes, they [rules] can be changed, but it will be done through research, working with our Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) which has doctors and people who are familiar with these things, ”said NSAA Executive Director Jay Bellar. “It’s even going up nationally, so trust me, we’ve already reached out to our SMAC committee to see if we’re doing our best for our children,” he says.

Copyright 2021 WOWT. All rights reserved.

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