McMinnville High School Football – Lessons Learned?

The story based out of McMinnville High School in Oregon has just about every media outlet one can imagine.  From the Associate Press to ESPN, the “mystery” of why several high school football players would be hospitalized raises many question and much concern.

The initial national coverage by ABC News was quick (and irresponsible) for jumping on the notion that the supplement Creatine was the likely culprit.


Elevated levels of Creating Kinase in the blood tests of the young athletes admitted in the hospital.

Could Creatine have contributed to the compartment syndrome that resulted in several players actually needing surgery to relieve pressure and avoid permanent muscle damage…or worse?  Yes.

My point is not to defend Creatine.  I do not recommend this supplement to any young athlete and this is a topic to discuss in itself.

My point is that we must start looking at the sports training and conditioning programs that young athletes are engaged in – most often under the direction of a coach and or strength and conditioning coach.

Was the workout these young football players engaged in excessive?  Not according to McMinnville High School Administrators.

Not excessive?   Push ups followed by bench dips in a 115-120 degree room AFTER a conditioning practice out on the field during the hottest day of the year?

That is what I call , “being stupid on purpose”.

What say the players on the McMinnville High Football Team?

“It’s heart-breaking,” injured player Greg Cordie told KGW from his hospital bed. “I love this game… He pushed us too hard, and here we are.”

Cordie’s parents and some others were outraged. Jim Cordie said he’s worried his son’s entire football career could now be ruined.

“This ain’t the NFL, this ain’t college. Stop bringing these college coaches in and pushing these kids so far. They’re still growing. They’re still kids. They just want to play for fun,” he said.

Must be the supplements though right?.  How about rhabdomyolysis?  Guess what one of the primary symptoms is?  Elevated levels of Creatine Kinase.

According to

Rhabdomyolysis (RAB-DOE-MY-O-LIE-SIS) is the rapid destruction of skeletal muscle resulting in leakage into the urine of the muscle protein myoglobin.”

“Myoglobin is a protein component of the muscle cells that is released into the blood when the skeletal muscle is destroyed in rhabdomyolysis. Creatine kinase is an enzyme (a protein that facilitates chemical reactions in the body) also in the muscle cells. The level of each of these proteins can be measured in blood to monitor the degree of muscle injury from rhabdomyolysis.” Myoglobin can also be measured in samples of urine.”

Hard work pays off.  I am a beliver in that, but it needs to be smart work.

Young athletes are not little adults.

There is an absolute art to training kids how to become better athletes.  Every coach will have a different ethos, philosophy and training style.

The style of coaching must be rooted in the science and practicality of working with young people.

Yes kids adapt, yet this mantra does not suffice when most coaches cannot adequately explain what it is they are actually asking young athletes to adapt to.

Ultimately it is the head coach and strength coach that bears the responsibility for this tragic situation in McMinnville.  Let this be a shot across the bow to coaches in our community (in all sports) to do what is right.


~Coach Dave




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