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Waseca football coach recovering after collapsing on sideline

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 6:16 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2021 at 7:30 PM CDT
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WASECA, Minn. (KEYC) - For most players, winning a high school football opener is a memorable occasion, but, for the Waseca Bluejays, it’s a night they’ll never forget.

That’s because head coach Brad Wendland is alive after collapsing on the sideline.

Wendland has led the Bluejays for 16 seasons.

With only 31 seconds left in Friday’s season-opener against St. Peter, the 48-year-old began to feel dizzy. He took a knee to wait out the rest of the game.

“It happened over the course of a few seconds,” Wendland recalled. “I thought this doesn’t feel very good. I’m just gonna take a knee here for a second, and then when it passes, I’ll come back up and go on with whatever. That’s the last thing I remember.”

Suddenly, the crowd’s attention shifted from the Bluejay’s 21-13 lead to Wendland, who collapsed unresponsive on the sideline.

Mayo Clinic Health System Athletic Trainer Troy Hoehn said, “I glanced over, and I saw somebody laying on the ground. It didn’t take long to realize it was Coach.”

Fellow Mayo Athletic Trainer Leah Rutz added, “I ran over to get the AED and then came back and that’s right when our good Samaritan came down.”

Both athletic trainers and a nurse in the stands rushed to Wendland, performing lifesaving measures until paramedics arrived.

After several chest compressions and an AED shock, he became responsive.

Wendland explained, “I opened my eyes, and it was unusual because I was very with it but very unaware of the severity of what had happened. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t just let me stand up. I need to go talk to the team, you know?”

He was taken by ambulance to Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato. Aside from chest soreness, he said he felt normal.

Meanwhile, players decided to finish the game for Wendland. After the clock ran out, both teams knelt and prayed for the coach.

Mayo Clinic said out-of-hospital resuscitation from cardiac arrest is rare, with about a 10% survival rate.

Doctors are still determining what caused his heart to stop, but a pacemaker was implanted in his chest to help prevent it from happening again.

Wendland plans on returning to both the classroom and the field upon his recovery.

“I feel like I’m in bonus time now, and I’m going to make the most of it,” Wendland said.

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