PARKER, Colo. -- An athletic trainer, by definition, treats the ailments and minor injuries of a sports team. But a trainer at Legend High School recognized something serious that could have led to a student’s death in a matter of days.
Getting back to the gridiron is something Josh Boatright, 18, doesn’t take for granted.
“I hit the ground, passed out, and that’s all I remember,” Boatright said about collapsing during a practice in July. “If it wasn’t for Piper, I’d be dead today. So I’m really happy I had her on the sidelines watching us."
Boatright went to the trainer, Piper Thompson, when he couldn’t get his racing heart to slow.
“He was having complaints with activity. Then, he was starting to notice it at rest. To me, that was a red flag. Why is he having heart palpitations, a pounding heart with rest?” Thompson said. “What am I missing here? What’s going on? Dehydration doesn’t cause this. I mean, we talked about everything from nutrition to fluids, you name it. Something was not adding up in my brain at the time.”
So Thompson called Boatright's mom, LeAnne, and suggested they have him medically checked out. Four days later, a cardiologist told Boatright he has a very rare heart condition that could have killed him during the next practice or two.
“(The doctor) said, ‘Who do you have to thank for this?’ And Josh said, ‘My athletic trainer is the one that I spoke to.’ And he said, ‘You need to make sure you thank her because she saved your life,’” LeAnne said.
Boatright has Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which can cause sudden cardiac death. His heart has extra electrical paths that can cause his heart to fatally overwork itself. Surgery will fix that. But in the meantime, he’s on medication.
“The thought runs through my mind; it only takes a second. It could have been in a flash he could have not been with us anymore,” Thompson said.
Boatright said what could have happened stays with him. And what did happen has changed how he feels about his trainer.
“She was more like a teacher, authority figure, had respect for her but, you know, being a teenager, ‘You don’t know anything.’ But now that I’ve seen what she does and how she saved my life, she really knows what she’s doing,” Boatright said.
“Just thanks to God above he saved my son and that Piper was the angel sent to save him,” LeAnne said.
The Douglas County School Board will honor Thompson's life-saving actions at its meeting on Oct. 20.