LONGVIEW, Texas — As we approach the high school football season, fans are excited for the big plays and the big hits, but we should always focus on the biggest factor, players' health.
Saturday morning in the Longview Lobo athletic training facility, freshmen athletes went through EKG testing, also known as heart testing, which isn't covered in average physicals. It's the single most important test, not mandatory, that could be the difference from an athlete walking off the field or court alive. Something Debbie Goyne knows firsthand.
"In 2013, Brandon collapsed on the baseball field at LSU and Alexandria, Louisiana," Goyne said. "And he ended up having a sudden cardiac arrest."
Debbie Goyne is Brandon Goyne's mother, and after a few attempts to resuscitate her son, he was gone.
“He had seven standard physicals in nine years and none of them picked it up," Goyne said. "So when we found out that he ended up having an undiagnosed heart condition, first of all, we were shocked because he'd never complained about feeling bad, perfectly healthy, so we thought, okay, we're gonna figure out what to do with this.”
She and he husband partnered with an EKG testing company and started a foundation in her son's name, traveling across East Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana, providing testing to school districts that would allow it.
Screenings normally cost $20 per student, but thanks to Trent Williams, at Longview High School, the heart testing is absolutely free to students.
“That's amazing," Goye said. "This is one of the only places that we actually have that going on right now, but Trent is so invested in the Longview ISD program that he he gives.”
Despite his on field accolades, it's the giving that head football coach John King is most proud of.
“Just proud of him what he what he's meant to this community," King said. "He never forgets to give back, always willing to do so.”
Since Brandon’s death, Debbie and her husband went before the UIL and state of Texas petitioning that heart screenings be added to physicals. While that hasn’t happened, students and parents must now fill out a sudden cardiac arrest form each year. Explaining what cardiac arrest is and what causes it. It also explains when a student should see a heart specialist, saying, "if a qualified examiner has concerns.
Their goal is to get every kid, 10 and up tested, because you never know when it could be your child.
“The people that it's never happened to, they just don't believe it can happen to their child," Goyne said. "And I get it because I had never, ever thought anything was wrong with my child at all. Until it happened to him. And when it happened, he just collapsed and he never got back up.”
The Brandon Goyne Foundation has tested over 25,000 students and despite misconceptions, Debbie says those who have found irregularities have still been able to play once treated by a physician.