Dad: 71st player who died at practice 'was a jewel to me' - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Dad: 71st player who died at practice 'was a jewel to me'

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Evan Raines, a junior at Seventy-First High School, died after falling ill Saturday at the end of football practice. (Facebook) Evan Raines, a junior at Seventy-First High School, died after falling ill Saturday at the end of football practice. (Facebook)
Evan Raines, a junior at Seventy-First High School, died after falling ill Saturday at the end of football practice. (Facebook) Evan Raines, a junior at Seventy-First High School, died after falling ill Saturday at the end of football practice. (Facebook)
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -

Seventy-First High School returned to the football practice field on Monday as the team and community were still in shock over the death of a Falcons player.

Evan Raines, a junior, died after falling ill Saturday at the end of football practice.

Superintendent Frank Till said Raines went to a coach at the end of Saturday's light practice saying he did not feel well.

Raines was treated by emergency medical workers before he was transported to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where he died.

His father, Rodney Raines, still had lots of questions Monday about the cause of death, but no answers yet.

"Evan Raines was a jewel to me. I will forever miss him. I will hold on to his memory 'til the day that I leave this earth," his father said.

The father said his son started playing football at age 3. He dreamed of playing in college and the NFL and his dad says he worked hard at it, in workouts and in the classroom to work toward a scholarship.

Rodney Raines said Evan was also deeply involved in their church.

"My son taught at the church. He played the drums at the church," Rodney Raines said. "He would teach Bible lessons."

Raines said he understood his son complained of chest pains and shortness of breath at practice Saturday and advised parents to take extreme caution with their young athletes.

"Make sure your child receives a thorough examination - thorough, thorough examination. Make sure they're ready," he said. "We did the well check and had no reason to think there was any problem because he was to me the picture of health."

Seventy-First athletic director Lee Williams said the team wanted to have practice Monday despite the shock of Saturday's events.

"They're still really heavy-hearted, but their idea today was to still come out and memorialize him and with a game that he loved and enjoyed," Williams said.

Till told The Fayetteville Observer that Raines passed a physical examination prior to the beginning of practice.

Friends in the teen group at Raines' church, True Vine Ministries in Fayetteville, have printed T-shirts that read "Gone But Not Forgotten" in memory of Raines.

"When I got home I couldn't move, it was very hard for me to just sit there and think about him being out of my life," said his long-time friend, Jamin Brown.

"Although we loved Evan, God loved him so much more and in the midst of this we can be assured that God's got us. We can always take time to remember Evan's smile, that keeps us in these moments right now," added Jovon McLean.

Although the school year has not started, Till said grief counselors will be on hand on Monday to talk to players as well as cheerleaders who were at the school when Raines became ill.

Family and friends are still waiting to find out the cause of Raines' death. His father said the funeral service is going to be Friday but details have not been completed.

According to Cumberland County school officials, the following is the safety protocol that their first responder took. First he informed the coach to call 911, after Evan reported shortness of breath. Then  his shoulder pads were removed and someone quickly poured cold water over his body. Ice packs were soon placed around key areas of his body and three minutes later EMT arrived. An official said off camera he was told Evan never stopped breathing, which was why the first responder didn't perform CPR. But later in the hospital, the athlete died of cardiac arrest.

We looked at the State's Policy Manual for protocol in these types of situations. Each high school is required to have a licensed athletic trainer or a first responder for all football practices and games – which the 71St High School had. Then they need to follow an emergency action plan, which dictates that 911 be called under specific circumstances.

The highest person on this chain of command needs to stay with the athlete, and monitor his condition. Then that person needs to help the EMS with anything they need to know, then attempt to contact the athlete's parents.

Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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