WEST CHESTER, Ohio -- Lakota West lacrosse player Matt Stratman, whose freshman year athletic debut impressed coaches and classmates alike, seemed unstoppable until the moment he collapsed Saturday night.
Three days later, he still hadn't regained consciousness.
"We'd just finished our alumni game, and Matt was feeling fine," coach Steve Burkhardt said of that Saturday night. "He said he was feeling hot, so we just kind of assumed he was having a heat issue."
Burkhardt and teammates called for medical services and moved the unconscious Stratman into the shade, where they thought he might recover. Instead, he stopped breathing.
At Children's Hospital, he was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation -- an abnormal but usually asymptomatic connection between veins and arteries that can sometimes lead to symptoms such as headaches, seizures and stroke.
Longtime friend Jackson Kordos visited him repeatedly at the hospital, hoping he would wake from his coma. Kordos, Burkhardt and Lakota West football coach Miles Harp all agreed that Stratman is "a fighter" whom they hope and expect will recover.
"He'll keep fighting no matter what," Kordos said. "I know he'll pull through."
In the meantime, his friends created a GoFundMe campaign to pay for the cost of his hospitalization. The reaction at Lakota West has been one of shock and worry, Kordos said, but also of a community coming together to support its members.
"We're just hoping and praying for him," teammate Nathan Spinosa said.