Most of us say "thanks" without thinking.
Navy football player Will McKamey remained in critical condition at the University of Maryland Medical Center on Monday morning, two days after he collapsed and suffered a brain injury during spring practice.
McKamey underwent cranial surgery on Saturday afternoon at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore to reduce swelling and bleeding on his brain. The Tennessee native has been in a coma since collapsing. His family - through the Naval Academy - released a statement on Sunday evening stating there was no new news about his condition.
"We still have only small responses from Will," the statement said.
Coaches, players and other representatives from the Navy football team have maintained an almost constant vigil at the hospital. Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk, head coach Ken Niumatalolo and team captains Noah Copeland and Parrish Gaines are among those that have spent hours in the hospital waiting room.
Randy and Kara McKamey flew from their home in Knoxville to Baltimore on Saturday and have kept friends and family updated on their 19-year-old son's condition through posts on Facebook and Twitter. Randy McKamey is the head coach at Grace Baptist Academy in Knoxville, where Will was a two-time all-state selection as a running back.
Pastor Todd Stewart led a prayer service for Will McKamey on Sunday at Grace Baptist Church while the Facebook page for the Grace Christian Rams football program has been flooded with messages of support. Those posting to Twitter have included the hashtag "Will Miracle" while asking that people pray for the youngster.
"Our entire family appreciates each and every one that has reached out to us. The photos of Will, the support, the prayers, seeing everybody rally around us has been unbelievable. It amazes me how this one kid is touching so many ... from coast to coast," the McKamey family said in the statement.
McKamey was going through drills during spring camp's first practice in pads on Saturday morning when he came to the sideline and complained to a team trainer that his head hurt. The sophomore slotback took off his helmet then collapsed on the field and was immediately attended to by medical personnel on site.
McKamey was transported by ambulance to another location on campus and was then airlifted to the Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. Sources told The Capital paramedics onboard the Medevac helicopter had to revive the midshipman en route to the hospital.
McKamey suffered a similar episode while playing for Grace Christian Academy in 2012, collapsing during a two-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter of a game at South Pittsburg. He was flown to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, where he spent a few days in the intensive care unit while doctors monitored brain bleeding and swelling.
McKamey did not undergo surgery that time, but the injury prevented him from suiting up for Grace Christian in the playoffs that season. He would be selected as the top running back among Class A schools in Tennessee after totaling more than 2,000 rushing and receiving yards as a senior.
Sources told The Capital that several doctors in Tennessee cleared McKamey to continue playing football at the collegiate level. As a freshman at Navy in 2013, the 5-foot-9, 170-pounder did not see any varsity action but did play in junior varsity games.
A Naval Academy spokesman said Sunday that all candidates for service academies are given extensive pre-admission physicals. Commander John Schofield, public information officer at the academy, said the "standards for medical qualification for a commissioned program in the military" are conducted through the Department of Defense'sMedical Examination Review Board.
"If something is identified in that evaluation that requires a waiver, then you go through the waiver process," Schofield said.
Due to federal privacy rules in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Schofield could neither confirm nor deny whether McKamey needed a waiver. However, multiple sources have told The Capital that doctors affiliated with the Navy football program, aware of the previous brain injury, had reservations about McKamey returning to the field and that the family was asked to sign a waiver.
"At this point, our primary focus is on supporting Midshipman McKamey and his family," Schofield said.