Luke Schemm, a Kansas high school football player, scored a touchdown Tuesday night, then ran to the sidelines, where he immediately collapsed and died. He is the 11th high school football player to die either at practice or on the field since July, KSN-TV (Wichita) is reporting.
Luke Schemm, a small town farm kid and great athlete. Again, prayers to the family and friends of Luke. pic.twitter.com/4zs6Q52FGR
— Everett Royer (@KSportsImages) November 4, 2015
Schemm was a star football player in his senior year at Wallace County High School in Sharon Springs, Kansas. Like a lot of small Kansas towns, Sharon Springs, in the far western portion of the state, near the Colorado border, is too small to field a traditional 11-man football team. Instead, they field a modified eight-man lineup.
On Tuesday night, Luke and his team were playing Otis Bison in a Division I eight-man game. In the middle of the third quarter, Schemm scored a touchdown. He then ran to the sidelines, where he collapsed and died. He had been hit earlier in the game.
Schemm’s horrified teammates, as well as the other team, and the assembled fans gathered on the field for an impromptu prayer circle.
Schemm was flown to Swedish Medical Center in the Denver suburb of Englewood, where he was pronounced brain-dead and placed on life support. At a tearful press conference outside the hospital, Luke’s father, David Schemm, said that his son, for all intents and purposes, was gone.
“Luke is currently on life support, but he has no brain function. We have come to terms that Luke, our beautiful gift from God, is no longer with us. We have felt the thoughts, prayers of our friends, family, and community. We thank them for their support at this time. Luke gave everything in life he had, in every moment. As a son, a brother and a friend”
On Wednesday night, the Schemm family’s pastor announced that the family had taken Luke off of life support, according to NBC News. He died shortly after.
David Schwemm describes his son as a fit and strong 17-year-old with no health problems. He excelled at football and track, and was active in his church and in his community.
“Luke’s legacy goes far beyond the fields and the courts. An active member in our church and community, Luke took pride in being a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters and a member and club president of 4-H.”
It is not clear, as of this post, what, specifically, caused Luke Schemm’s death. He had been hit earlier in the game, but continued playing up until scoring a touchdown and then collapsing on the sidelines.
“We do not know exactly [what happened]. Other than on the final play, when he was in for the two-point conversion, he was tackled, right before he went into the end-zone. And at that point he ran to the sidelines and collapsed.”
Gary Musselman, executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, confirmed via the New York Daily News that the referees didn’t notice Luke appear to suffer any hits to the head or neck during the game.
Luke Schemm is the 11th high school football player to die from play this season, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research. Seven of those deaths were from trauma, while the other four were “indirectly related.”
David Schemm is asking his son’s school not to postpone any upcoming games.
“And I told the coach I don’t care if you win or lose, I want these boys, and I want these kids to lay it all out there on that field.”
Luke Schemm’s funeral is scheduled for next Tuesday at his old high school.
[Image via Shutterstock / David Lee]