It is a Tuesday afternoon practice at Winside High School and everything seems normal in the small northeast Nebraska town, however, it is anything but.
The Class D-2 eight-man football squad is down to just 11 players, including three freshmen, thanks to a rash of injuries. The most recent one, to junior fullback Trey Meis, was devastating. Head Coach Kent Lawson remembers the play vividly.
“As he slipped out of the backfield he was caught there and wrapped up,” Lawson said. “In kind of a swinging motion, contact to the front part of his hat and the ground was shortly thereafter.”
Trey was out with a severe head injury. He hobbled to the sideline before losing consciousness. Play was halted and eventually the game was called as Trey was life-flighted to a Sioux City hospital. The situation was tense.
“It was frightening,” Lawson said. “Not so much the symptoms, but the rapid nature in which they started to take place that was what was frightening especially.”
It was over an hour before the life-net helicopter took off. After that, it was time for Winside to regroup.
“You know, it had a tremendous toll on a few of them. We have a couple of young men who are very close friends,” Lawson said. “We still had, after an hour and 15, we still had a number of young men who were hurting and hurting through the weekend.”
Trey suffered a subdural hematoma, a form of brain bleeding. His condition improved through the weekend, with the team getting updates via a Go Fund Me page set up for the Meis family.
Then came Monday and another blow. School administration and Coach Lawson decided it was best the Wildcats forfeit this Friday’s contest against Emerson-Hubbard.
“I think for them it was a little bit of relief because they have time to continue to regroup and get Trey home and get normalcy back. For others there was some frustration, you know they’re competitors and they want to play,” Lawson said.
The latest update from the Meis family stated there was a setback and Trey wasn’t expected to leave the hospital until Wednesday. So with that news and no game to prepare for, the team plodded through practice on Tuesday.
Only an appearance from an unexpected visitor could cheer them up.
Coach Lawson stopped practice with an announcement.
Trey was back.
After four days of uncertainty, the team crowded around the Meis family’s F-150 and greeted their friend. Football players reunited with their fallen teammate and a coach with his player.
Winside could feel normal again.
The Meis family’s Go Fund Me page can be found here.
By News Parter News Channel Nebraska