West Catholic High School football player dies suddenly before game

Thursday, July 15, 2021
Community in shock over sudden death of star football player
The West Catholic High School community is in shock over the devastating loss of one of their star football players.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia's West Catholic High School community is in shock over the devastating loss of one of their star football players on Tuesday night.

What's also concerning is the mysterious circumstances surrounding his sudden death just minutes before a high school football game in Coatesville, Chester County.

Sixteen-year-old Ivan James Hicks, Jr. was a proud member of the West Catholic High football team.

His father, who spoke with Action News off-camera, says the school was like a second family to him.

"He said, 'I love Coach Wood, he's like the best, I can talk to him about anything when it comes to football, his door is always open.' And it was like a home away from home," said Ivan Hicks, Sr.

The Chester County Coroner's Office confirmed that Ivan died suddenly as he was taking a water break while warming up for a football game against Coatesville High School.

He was rushed to the Brandywine Hospital emergency room where he was later pronounced dead.

His father says this happened just days after he talked with his son about his plans for the future.

"We were talking about this for like the past three or four weeks, and for something like to happen, it just stopped everything. I am at a loss for words at this point," said Hicks Sr.

In a statement, the coroner's office said, "There was no sign of external injury in this tragic, unexpected death."

They add they will look closely at possible cardiac causes.

"God has a plan for all of us. He's in control of everything. It's our job to understand that it's a part of His plan, and Ivan's life is a part of His glory," said Hicks Sr.

In a letter sent to the high school community, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said in part, "Please join us in praying for the happy repose of Ivan's soul and that God may hold and comfort his family at this time of intense sorrow and grief."

"I'm not feeling any kind of pain in knowing where he's at right now. My pain is that as a father, I didn't get to spend more time with him," Hicks' father said.

The coroner's office has scheduled an autopsy for Friday to determine the exact cause of death.

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese is offering grief counselors for those students in need.