A Federal Way High School student-athlete died Tuesday after a workout on campus, school district officials said.
In a letter sent out to parents and families, officials said the student-athlete died suddenly after a summer conditioning workout at the school.
"It is with deep sadness that I am sharing that a student-athlete, a member of the Federal Way High School family, passed away suddenly today after participating in a summer conditioning workout at Federal Way High School. Our hearts are with the family as they deal with this loss.
We have protocols and procedures in place to ensure student safety during summer workouts. Over the next 72 hours, we will be suspending all outdoor athletic activities at the middle and high schools to closely verify and examine the protocols we have in place.
We are all heartsick to hear of this news, including of course, the coaching staff who all spend time every day with these players and know them all well. Our deepest sympathies go to the family and friends of this young man, and we are doing all we can to offer help at this time of grief.
According to the medical examiner, Allen Harris, 16, had a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
According to the American Heart Association, it is rare, but some people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can have sudden cardiac arrest during very vigorous physical activity.
Teammates are mourning Harris' sudden death.
“He's just a happy, joyful kid. Always, always happy. I don't think he has a mean soul on his body,” said Joey Mullarky.
KIRO 7 talked to Mullarky and teammate Poet Grayson, who were also on the field with Harris during Tuesday’s conditioning. They said they were just wrapping up wind sprints when Harris collapsed.
“We are getting on the line and we hear Allen yell and he falls to the ground,” Mullarky recounted.
“That just like heartbreaking, seeing my friend and brother like that. Someone don't (sic) deserve that,” Grayson added.
Harris was also a member of the school's Pacific Islander Club, also known as
the PI Club.
Former teammate Tamaaulelei Maalona just transferred to O'Dea but was close to Harris on the football team and PI Club.
“He was always a humble kid, positive had a laugh so funny,” Maalona remembered. “He always made us laugh.”
Though Harris wasn't a Pacific Islander, the club's director, Mane Tuiaana, said he saw how much Harris grew to love their culture. He said Harris worked hard to learn Samoan dancing and was a crucial part of the team that won the championship last year.
“We learned a lot from him because he was so patient with all of us and never gave up,” Tuiaana said.
Harris was described as the first person at practice and the last to leave, whether with the PI Club on the football field.
“How much work he puts in makes me want to put in more work,” Mullarky said.
“This football season -- just dedicate for him,” Grayson said. “It's a bigger purpose than ourselves now.”
Federal Way Public Schools has suspended outdoor activities for the rest of the week. The district said there are safety protocols in place to keep students safe during summer workouts but they're now evaluating each school's procedures.
The football team plans to hold a vigil at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Stadium.
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