Athletic training alumna helps save high school football player's life

December 10 2007

It was a typical Friday night high school football game in early November for Angela Hockaday, as she stood on the sidelines with her athletic training gear, watching Lee’s Summit North High School’s last game of the season. The game changed when she saw one of the players go down and not get back up.

“One of our athletes looked dizzy, as if he had a head injury, and took three steps back and collapsed,” said Hockaday, who received her master’s degree in athletic training in 2001 from Indiana State University.

Hockaday and fellow trainer Steve Taylor rushed onto the field. The player was senior Jesse Wood, who earlier in the game scored a historic touchdown as the first member of his family ever to do so during a football game.

When they reached him, Taylor stabilized the head and neck and began trying to get Wood to focus on him.

“He was conscious at that point, but quickly began to regress,” Hockaday said. “Then he stopped breathing and became unconscious.”

While Taylor and one of physicians began two-man CPR, Hockaday ran to get the automated external defibrillator.

“I knew that early defibrillation was necessary to increase the chances of survival,” said Hockaday, who also is a CPR and AED instructor.

Wood eventually began to breathe again.

“They are unable to determine that exact cause of cardiac arrest at this point,” Hockaday said. “He recently had a permanent defibrillator surgically placed in his chest, and now Jesse is doing very well and he was able to attend our football banquet in mid-November.”

Hockaday has served as an athletic trainer at the high school in Lee’s Summit, Mo., for four years; and worked prior to that at Excel Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Clinic in Boonville, Mo., but she had never been in a life-threatening situation before.

“This was my first encounter with an incident like this, and I hope it is the last,” Hockaday said. “It is a nerve-racking experience, but it is important to stay calm so that everyone else will remain calm, and to rely on your training.”

Her training at ISU and on the job kicked in when it mattered most.

“ISU is a great school that is always preparing its students to be placed in situations such as these,” Hockaday said. “They build the knowledge and confidence for students to act in life-threatening and non-life threatening events.”

Hockaday says that parents, coaches and other athletes can help in these situations by also being ready.

“As a CPR and AED instructor, I encourage everyone to be prepared and certified, so that if and when a situation occurs such as this, you can be helpful in saving a life,” she said.

One of the first four undergraduate athletic training programs in the country; and one of the first two graduate athletic training programs in the country, and the first to admit women, Indiana State University’s athletic training program enjoys a national reputation with a network of alumni throughout the world at professional sports organizations, universities and in health care settings.


Photo: Download a high-resolution photo here: Angela Hockaday

WRITER/CONTACT: Katie Spanuello, media relations assistant director, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or

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Story Highlights

Angela Hockaday, 2001 master's graduate in athletic training from ISU, helped save the life of a football player through quick action and skill, while serving as the athletic trainer for Lee's Summit North High School in Missouri.

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