Doctors warn of heart conditions in young athletes

The death of a former Polk County athlete serves as a reminder for players to be careful.

HAINES CITY, Fla. (WTSP) -- Earlier this month, a Haines City High School graduate's life was cut short when he collapsed and died after football practice in college.

Eric Goll was only 20. His playing career ended tragically, but his former coach wants other young athletes and parents to learn from his story.

Pat Herrington described Goll as “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” an aggressive player on the field, and a kind, well-respected student and friend off of it.

“He'd strap on that helmet, that green and white, he turned into a different player,” Herrington said.

Under the lights, there was something nobody saw. At one of his first practices at Chadron State College in Nebraska, Goll collapsed and died. Doctors later found he had an enlarged heart.

“There's no way we would've known that,” Herrington said. “We get the physical forms and everything comes back clean and he's ready to play.”

The symptoms of heart conditions can be subtle, Dr. Gul Dadlani, a pediatric cardiologist, said. They include chest pains, dizziness and shortness of breath.

Dadlani is talking with parents at Lakeland Regional Health Tuesday, encouraging them to be observant and aware.

“Take that extra minute just to ask them, even if you have to pull them out, because sometimes you have to,” he said.

Dadlani will be speaking from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Hollis Cancer Center.

Herrington hopes other young athletes and parents see what happened to Goll, and are careful when playing sports.

“Football is not the ultimate goal,” he said.
 


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