The University of Maine football team begins training camp Wednesday, and it is expected to be a difficult day for Black Bear coaches and players.
It will have been only eight days since defensive back Darius Minor of Locust Grove, Virginia, collapsed and died during freshman workouts at Morse Field on the UMaine campus in Orono.
The cause of Minor’s death remains a mystery pending the results of an autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Augusta.
“We did complete an autopsy on Mr. Minor and the case is currently ‘Pending Further Studies,’’’ OCME administrator Mark Belserene said in an email.
“The doctor has ordered some additional lab testing,” he added, emphasizing that it is is not unusual in a case such as this.
Belserene said it will be at least one or two weeks before any resolution might be expected.
Minor’s funeral will be held Wednesday in Virginia. UMaine head coach Joe Harasymiak and defensive backs coach Matt Birkett will be among those in attendance.
With UMaine football players heading to the field Tuesday, head athletic trainer Ryan Taylor said counselors will be available to help the student-athletes deal with the tragedy — as they have been since the day Minor died.
“We have a system in place to get them spiritual guidance if they need to talk to someone,” Taylor said. “The coaching staff will talk to them and tell them it’s OK to be emotional and to be upset. And from a medical side of things, we will keep a very close eye on all of these players as we will the other athletes who are here on campus. (Help) is just a phone call away.”
Taylor was among the trainers who raced to Minor’s aid when he collapsed after telling strength and conditioning coach Jon Lynch that he was feeling as though he was going to pass out. Taylor said everyone who tended to Minor did everything possible to revive him.
“You hoped it would have had a different ending. It’s very difficult when it doesn’t,” said Taylor, who said UMaine stresses the safety and well-being of the student-athletes above all else.
“We’re overly cautious in a lot of areas,” Taylor said. “You hear horror stories at other places where players don’t feel they can finish a drill but the coaches make them. We’ve never had that situation since I’ve been here.”
A candlelight vigil was held Monday night in Porterfield Park at the Orange County High School football field in Orange, Virginia, for Minor, a former all-conference player at the school.
According to the Daily Progress in Charlottesville, Virginia, more than 400 people attended the vigil. They gathered in front of a memorial that included photos, jerseys, T-shirts, and messages from family members and friends. The group then moved inside the stadium and onto the field.
“He went far, everything he wanted to accomplish, he did,” former Orange County High School student Briancae Mortoa told WVIR NBC 29 in Charlottesville. “He made everybody proud. But when we heard the news … it was like ‘how?”
Kelly Guempel, the principal at Orange County High School, said in the WVIR story, “I think some kids are going to recognize the fact that nothing is promised, and one thing Darius did is he lived every day to the fullest, he was all out 100 percent.”
Taylor said UMaine will hold a private memorial service for Minor.
BDN Digital Sports Editor Pete Warner contributed to this report.
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