By COLLIN BROOKS
After Levi Summers made it through 28-hours of “midnight madness” with his David Crockett football teammates, there was little that he thought that he couldn’t do.
Those difficult hours included a slew of trying obstacles, including a 30-minute run, a three-hour midnight practice and a night filled with weightlifting. Summers went through the night with flying colors and because of those and other exemplifying exercises, Summers was elected as a team captain.
And just as he was getting ready to suit up with his soldiers, his entire world was shaken.
The 17-year old had been experiencing shortness of breath and during a scrimmage he was forced to take uncharacteristic breaks in order to regain his stamina.
It all came to fruition when he was helping keep the markers during a junior varsity scrimmage. When he returned home, Summers began to experience some back pain, which forced him to go to the doctor, where he was misdiagnosed with pneumonia. He was given antibiotics and sent home.
During the next day he had more severe pains — forcing him to the ground with breathing trouble — an ambulance was summoned to take Summers to the emergency room.
“They took a bunch of x-rays and ran tests and they finally admitted me at two o’clock in the morning,” Summers said. “All through the night they kept coming in and getting blood and then they took me for a CT scan for a precautionary measure.”
That proactive move may have saved Summers’ life.
“They came back and told me that I had several blood-clots all over both of my lungs,” Summers said.“At first I didn’t know that I wasn’t going to be able to play football,” said Summers through a tight lipped smile. “I was just like ‘okay, I need to get over this, I’ll miss like two weeks maybe,’.”
Then when he went back to his room, his family broke the bad news to him.
“They told me I wasn’t going to be able to play football,” Summers said.
That is when the senior realized how serious his ailment was. The reason that Summers won’t be able to strap up again is because he currently receives two shots of blood thinner everyday — one in the morning and one at night. That medicine increases the chances of internal bleeding and brain bleeding, which make the hits associated with football too high risk.
“At that point, it just crushed me,” Summers admitted. “First this happened and then football got taken away from me and then the symptoms just kept getting worse after they diagnosed me. I wasn’t able to breath and I was put on oxygen.”
But those symptoms were nothing compared to the hole that no football has left in Summers’ life.
“I’m out of school for now (for six weeks), I can’t go back to school because I don’t have the energy,” Summers said. “I can’t walk from my bedroom to my kitchen without being short of breath.”
Summers hopes that he will be able to watch from the sidelines this year, once he is able to comfortably move without tiring. Even without him in the locker room, his teammates will still be thinking of him with sticker decals of 52 and 4 on their helmets as tributes to Summers and their other teammate going through an ailment, Andres Huerta.
“That means a lot,” Summers said. “We have a strong brotherhood. All summer we were grinding through the heat and we work for this season. So it is good to know that they are thinking about me while they are playing. Standing on the sidelines is going to be hard, knowing that I won’t be able to go out there and do anything.”
While the senior admits it will be difficult to not be on the field, he hopes that people will take his misfortune as a lesson.
“Nothing is promised, you have to cherish every second out on the field, anything could be taken away from you at anytime,” Summer said. “I didn’t think anything could touch me and I didn’t think anything was going to stop me from playing this year. No matter what was coming through, any obstacles I would have to go through, I was going to play my senior year. But I mean, it just got taken away from me.”
Now his sights have been forced to turn, but to where, he isn’t quite sure.
“Everything has changed,” Summers said. “(Football) was my plan to get to college, so now I am really not sure whether I am going to college or what I am going to do yet.”
Summers says he has hopes of starting a construction business when gets out of high school, but the bright football player will have to re-examine his next route.
No matter where he goes, his coach knows that he will be successful.
“He isn’t a captain selected by coaches, he is a captain elected by his peers and he is a guy that was in there in the weight room no matter what,” Bosken said. “He is a kid that was here during my first year during his freshman year. He was with us on the sideline of the 90-20 beating to Science Hill and he has been in the Musket Bowl win. You talk about grit, a blue collar kid? If my son grew up to be like him I would be perfectly happy.”