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July 14, 2021

Philadelphia high school football player collapses, dies before scrimmage in Coatesville

An autopsy for the 16-year-old West Catholic junior is scheduled for Friday

Investigations High School Football
Philly Football Player Dies Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

A 16-year-old football player at West Catholic Preparatory High School in West Philadelphia collapsed on the field before a planned scrimmage with Coatesville High School on July 13, 2021. The victim, who later died, was identified as Ivan Hicks.

A football player at West Catholic Preparatory High School in Philadelphia died Tuesday after collapsing on the field during warmups ahead of a scrimmage with Coatesville High School, officials said.

The Chester County Coroner's Office identified the victim as 16-year-old Ivan Hicks, a junior lineman for the Burrs' varsity team.

Hicks was supposed to participate in a seven-on-seven scrimmage in Coatesville at the time of the incident.

Hicks was taken to Brandywine Hospital and pronounced dead at 6:43 p.m.

The coroner's office said an autopsy has been scheduled for Friday to determine a cause of death.

Studies on football-related deaths in high school and college athletes have increasingly pointed to heat-related illnesses as a common cause of fatality. Between 1995-2018, an average of three football players died each year from heat-related illnesses, though that number has dipped slightly in recent years due to greater awareness and prevention, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research.

In high school and college combined, the United States sees an average of 12 football-related fatalities each year, with indirect systemic causes twice as common as direct blunt trauma. The most common causes of death in these athletes are cardiac failure, brain injury and heat illness. Deaths are much more common at the college level than among high school football players.

No additional information about Hicks' death was available Wednesday afternoon.