Wootton High football player considers legal action after severe illness

The parents of one Wootton High School football player have hired an attorney after their son and two teammates were hospitalized last month. They fell severely ill after an off-season workout that the family’s attorney maintains was inappropriately run.

Fourteen-year-old Brian Jordan was in the hospital for 19 days after the May 4 conditioning exercise at the Maryland school. He was one of the three students treated for symptoms of a condition called rhabdomyolysis, during which muscle fibers break down and enter the bloodstream. Rhabdomyolysis is potentially fatal.

“His triceps swelled up and his arm was about that big and he got cuts down his arms to alleviate the swelling,” teammate Sam Zacks said.

Jordan’s parents David and Sue have hired an attorney and are considering legal action. The attorney, Nicholas McConnell, said the students had to do push-ups while up on three chairs, two for their arms and one for their feet.

McConnell said the exercise was conducted by a newly hired coach and included athletes that varied in age and physical fitness. McConnell alleges the students weren’t offered any water and were told if they failed the drill they would be sidelined with clipboard duty.

With his father's permission, Jordan’s teammate Zacks demonstrated the move that landed him and the fellow players in the hospital.

“They're pretty tough when you do them and you get really, really sore afterwards,” the high school junior said.

Zacks only showed ABC7 five of the triangulated push-ups. At the school workout last month, the athletes did 125, five repetitions of 25 each. McConnell said the breaks between the repetitions were filled with additional exercise, but Wootton principal Doran told The Gazette that school protocol was followed and there were appropriate rest periods.

Zacks said his arms felt heavy afterwards and the next day, he felt as if his shoulder had been dislocated.

“My shoulder started hurting and I told my mom I thought I had a dislocated shoulder,” Zacks said.

Zacks and others described the post spring-break gym session as fairly routine. The Jordan’s attorney disputes that. He said the drill wasn’t posted on the bulletin board, as strength conditioning training usually is.

“These students were taken to the wrestling room and put through a drill that does not appear to have been part of the training regimen,” McConnell stated.

The principal of Wootton High School, however, said the drill was nothing new. “The routine they were doing was a push-up routine that's been used, you know, many times,” Principal Michael Doran said.

The school stopped that conditioning and discontinued the drill. The Gazette reports that the school plans to train coaches in all fields on rhabdomyolysis and hold information sessions to raise awareness with parents and students.

“Sometimes bad things happen and nobody's to blame. I know it sounds strange, but that's what we've found,” Doran said.

Rhabdomyolysis is a condition usually associated with sudden, traumatic injuries. This past January, more than a dozen players from the University of Iowa football team were hospitalized suffering from the condition after an intense workout.