Safety on football coaches minds after player's death

Roy White III, 16, died Monday after collapsing during spring drills at Cook County High School, about 200 miles south of Atlanta. Cook County coroner Ron Lipsey said White collapsed after catching a pass and being hit by another player.

The cause of death has not been determined.

Chattahoochee coach Terry Crowder said news about the death was "every coach's worst nightmare." He planned to go over safety measures with his players before taking the field Tuesday.

"We're going to do everything we can to protect them. But you know football is a contact sport. Something awful like this can happen riding down the road in a car, just like on a football field. It's just terrible to see this happen to a young person."

The Georgia High School Association is awaiting autopsy results before reviewing any safety procedures. Ralph Swearngin, GHSA executive director, said it was a tragic situation and "has left all of us feeling empty. We hate it any time a situation like this occurs. Of course, it's surprising because we don't usually have serious kinds of injuries in our spring practices."

The GHSA is trying to help with the situation, according to Swearngin. His office initiated contact between the GHSA's insurance carrier and Cook County administrators to provide policy information to White's family. Swearngin will eventually file a report with the National Federation of State High School Associations, which is mandatory in athletic-related deaths and catastrophic injuries.

At Flowery Branch, coach Lee Shaw wasn't sure how to address his team before Tuesday's practice.

"I don't know if you openly talk to your team about it ... then your kids might get gun shy, and that's when injuries happen," Shaw said.

"I think you remind the kids to tackle properly, talk about safety procedures, and hopefully say prayers for family, the community, the school and everyone that was associated with the accident. I just hate it."

Miller Grove coach Jasper Jewell said news of a player's death is "always sad, whether it's one of your kids, someone you don't know, or in another state or anywhere.

"It brings you back to what we're doing, and why we're doing this. We're in it to help kids."

— The Associated Press contributed to this article.