Loss of Detroit high school Coach Harvel, 57, felt statewide
DETROIT (WJBK) - It was a seven-on-seven scrimmage on Friday at Martin Luther King High School, when the head football coach Dale Harvel suffered a heart attack and passed away in front of his staff and players.
He was 57 years old.
"At the end of the day, we got the kids together, a successful day," said Terrell Patrick, assistant head coach. "I was having a conversation with coach and he collapsed."
It's a memory he may never forget.
"We're really going to have to rally around the kids," he said. "It's a big loss. We've had two head coaches since 1974 and they made a big impact."
Patrick knew the coach most of his life.
"When Coach Harvel came over in '86, I was the ball boy," he said. "I was 10 years old."
Patrick said Coach Harvel took it easy during Friday's practice.
"We pushed it back to 7 o'clock," he said. "We had preventive measures in place for coach. When it's hot and exhausting, myself and the defensive coordinator ... we run the practice -- make sure coach is hydrated. Coach probably spent five minutes on the field yesterday. We had him in the shade, we had him properly hydrated and it just happened."
Coach Harvel's health had been up and down the past few years, but the students at King High School kept him from giving up his passion.
"You see the new young faces, the 9th graders, the kids from JV that came up to varsity and they have just as much ambition and just as much passion as the kids the year before, so your battery automatically recharges," Patrick said.
This is a loss that is being felt statewide in the football community. He said they've heard from members of the sports media and coaches, including Michigan State University head football coach Mark Dantonio and University of Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh.
"We really do appreciate it," he said. "Just in the future keep the prayers, keep the family in your prayers. There are still three children without a father."
A Hail Mary pass brought King High School a state championship last season, which ended up being Coach Harvel's last game.
"To have it end like that, for that to be his last game, the last play, and the last team -- that's a great way to be remembered," Patrick said.
Patrick said there will be a team meeting on Monday and grief counsellors for the players. Funeral arrangements have not been made yet.