(NOTE: this story includes personal observations by the author.)
It started out as a picture-perfect Friday night for high school football – warm temperatures, a clear sky with a beautiful sunset developing, little wind in the air and the pop of helmets and shoulder pads as Randolph and Winside prepared for their district matchup in Randolph.
That may have been the only highlight of the night for the Toni and Bart Meis family, who have spent the weekend at Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City with their middle son, Trey, who suffered a subdural hematoma after being tackled on a play early in the second quarter of Randolph’s 36-0 win.
The play, which happened at my feet, seemed innocent enough. I shot photos as Meis was tackled by a Randolph defender at the end of the pass play and watched as he got up and appeared to stumble a bit. I though he had just lost his balance, but Randolph assistant coach Ted Stubbs, who was standing next to me, could see Meis’ face and knew right away that something wasn’t right.
Not long after, it was clear to everybody that Meis was hurt. A referee helped him toward the sideline and let him go, thinking he was able to walk on his own from there, but had to turn around suddenly to catch him as he clearly was losing his balance.
It all went downhill from there.
“The official had him and started walking toward me,” Winside coach Kent Lawson recalled. “(Trey) was our punter, so I had turned around to look for another punter and when I turned back, he nearly collapsed and I could see in his eyes that it was pretty serious.”
After asking some basic questions and not getting any responses, Lawson and team members helped him to the bench, where Meis soon lost consciousness and tried to throw up.
“Panic,” was what Meis’ mom, Toni, said she felt when she first saw her son wobbling toward the sidelines.
“I just assumed it was a concussion by the way he was walking,” his dad, Bart, added. “The closer he got, the worse it looked and I knew that it wasn’t good.”
The game was stopped when Randolph EMT members were called to come to the Winside sideline. As they were making their way across the field with their gurney and other equipment, members of Winside’s and Hoskins’ EMT units came out of the stands to help.
“We found out later that Randolph’s fire department was doing a fundraiser at the game, so their entire fire department was on hand,” Meis’ mom said. “It was probably the best situation to have all of them there along with the EMT’s from Winside and Hoskins.”
And it was a good thing, as Meis eventually became unresponsive. Lawson moved his team away from the situation toward the south end zone, and he and his coaching staff tried to comfort Meis’ teammates, all of whom were visibly shaken.
“They were close enough to see the chaos that was occurring, and it had an impact on them,” Lawson said. “It was probably an hour or more until they got Trey out of there in the helicopter, and even after we got home there were a few who were still pretty shook up.”
While the EMT’s worked on the situation, the coaches for both teams met with their respective school administrators and game officials, agreeing that the game should be called at that point – there was still 8:55 to go before halftime – as it was clear neither team was prepared to carry on.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Meis family. You can donate through the page at https://www.gofundme.com/2r5zazgy.
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