Tragedy struck Staten Island on Tuesday when a budding high school football player collapsed and died following a voluntary preseason workout with his teammates.
As reported by the New York Daily News, New York Post, CBS New York and a handful of other area outlets, 15-year-old Staten Island resident Nicholas Dellaventura collapsed and died just after he and his Staten Island (N.Y.) St. Joseph's By the Sea High teammates had finished a voluntary 90-minute preseason conditioning workout, the first of the season. Temperatures for the session were reportedly around 80 degrees, but players wore no football equipment whatsoever during the cardiovascular workout.
According to the Post, Dellaventura and his teammates were listening to St. Joseph by-the-Sea head coach Rick Clark while on a knee when Dellaventura began to struggle to breathe and eventually collapsed. School officials immediately began giving the 5-foot-8, 210-pound sophomore first aid, but Dellaventura was never fully resuscitated thereafter. He was rushed to Staten Island University Hospital but was pronounced dead just hours later.
An autopsy was performed on Tuesday night, but Dellaventura's uncle told the Daily News that they were still unsure what caused the teen's death.
"He was like an angel, a really nice, jovial kid," Clark told the Post. "He always had a smile on his face, whether he was playing football or in school. It's just a tragedy.
"There are not enough nice things you can say about the kid. I feel like I lost a member of my family."
Similarly, Dellaventura's teammates who watched his struggle and eventual collapse were left equally stunned.
"He was the best kid all around. Football-wise, he was the best on the field. He was the nicest kid in general," teammate Mike Motto told CBS New York. "Della was trying his hardest and he just went down."
Dellaventura served as the junior varsity team captain while still a freshman and made an impact on the St. Joseph by-the-Sea varsity squad as well. One recent St. Joseph by-the-Sea alum said the lineman was extremely talented and might have gone on to be one of the best players in school history.
Now he'll never get that chance, a realization that has left an entire school community, not to mention the Dellaventura family, in utter shock.
"He was the dream kid pretty much," St. Joseph by-the-Sea teammate Frank Vigilante told CBS New York.