Kenneth Sheely wants safer sports

GERMANTOWN, Md. -- The father of a Frostburg State senior who died after collapsing during football practice would like to see society take a closer look at the sport to find ways to make it safer.

Kenneth Sheely said his son died from severe head trauma and swelling of the brain. He said his son had been in great shape entering the season, having worked out all summer. Derek Sheely, 22, collapsed during a practice on Aug. 22 and died Sunday at a hospital in Baltimore.

"They were preparing for the next round of drills, and it was then that Derek started to mention to the coaches that he wasn't feeling well," Sheely said. "And then they were trying to take care of him, and that's when he went down."

Derek Sheely played fullback for the Bobcats and was majoring in history and political science at the school in Frostburg, Md. The family is from Germantown.

"I'm not a medical expert. I'm not a football expert," the father said. "But I would hope that any time, in any sport, whether it be during a game or during practice, that if an athlete passes away from something that wasn't of natural causes, that was clearly seemed to be induced by the activity, that the NCAA or somebody should try and look into that and see what lessons could be learned. I don't know if it's education, equipment, training, a combination of everything, but it seems like there has to be some subtle thing that could be learned that might help protect somebody else.

"If society can come up with a hundred new apps for an iPhone every day, it would seem like we would have the smarts to come up with one or two things every year to help improve the safety, whether it's baseball or football or whatever."

The university released a statement Wednesday night.

"Once medical professionals make a final determination as to the circumstances of Derek's untimely death, the University will review such findings as may be available to us, as well as our existing procedures to ensure that FSU is following every contemporary and appropriate standards regarding athletic practices."

Frostburg also said Sheely would be posthumously awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Liberal Studies, cum laude.