School board votes to add athletic trainers to all high schools

The Hillsborough County School Board voted Tuesday to make high school sports safer by adding a certified athletic trainer at every school, after the death of a 14-year-old student who collapsed during football drills.

The district demoted and reassigned some of those involved with overseeing athletics, including a coach, after 14-year-old Hezekiah Walters collapsed and died during a preseason football conditioning session this summer.

Hezekiah’s parents want to make sure no other family has to suffer the way they have, which is why they’ve put pressure on the school district to increase safety measures for student athletes.

It was 90 degrees that June afternoon and his parents say Hezekiah was new to the kind of strenuous workout he and his teammates were doing. The 14-year-old collapsed after he became overheated during the drills; the medical examiner’s report says his internal body temperature was 102.

An investigation revealed the school wasn't keeping proper athlete records and some of Hezekiah’s records were not submitted or completed, including his physical.

There's also no documentation showing the teen watched a required video about heat-related issues.

Hezekiah’s parents have hired an attorney. They’ve said their goal isn’t money, but rather to make sure the district makes changes in order to increase safety for student-athletes.

Currently, 17 high schools already have trainers, so this means the remaining 10 would get them as well. The trainers will be on staff year-round to oversee practices, games and off-season conditioning workouts.

There isn’t a hard time frame for when the trainers will be added.