Kansas college football player from N.J. dies after team’s first practice, coach says

Garden City Community College football coach Jeff Sims.
Garden City Community College football coach Jeff Sims. Garden City Telegram

A Kansas community college football player died after his team’s first day of practice this week, the coach said.

Football coach Jeff Sims said Braeden Bradforth, 19, died Wednesday night after the first day of practice at Garden City Community College, the Garden City Telegram first reported.

A teammate found Bradforth medically distressed in his dorm room on Wednesday night after a late team meeting, Sims told the Telegram. The teammate told a coach, who told Sims, who told a team trainer, who called an ambulance.

The trainer had first thought it could have been a heat issue or cramps, which are expected this time of year, Sims told The Eagle. Bradforth started to respond to the trainer, but “he wasn’t coming around the way he wanted him to,” so Bradforth was taken to a hospital.

Bradforth was pronounced dead about two hours later, at around 11:30 p.m., Sims told the Telegram.

The emergency room doctor said his opinion was that Bradforth’s death was not caused by an athletic issue, Sims told The Eagle. The doctor thought a blood clot may have traveled to his heart and caused a heart attack. An autopsy will be performed.

Bradforth was a defensive lineman out of Neptune High School in Neptune, N.J., according to his Hudl profile.

He had arrived at Garden City on Monday, and Wednesday was the first day of practices, Sims said. The Telegram reported that Wednesday’s practice for the Broncbusters consisted only of players going through conditioning drills.

“He had a great day and great attitude and was focused on things he needed to be successful in school and football,” Sims told The Eagle.

“Braeden was excited and a guy with a bounce in his steps.”

There are about 120 coaches and players on the team, and they are all handling the death differently, Sims said. Staff met with each player individually, and all Friday through Sunday practices were rescheduled.

“We know what it takes to win football games, but winning a football game is not the priority right now,” Sims said.

Garden City Community College won the National Junior College Athletic Association championship in 2016.

Sims said in a tweet that the football team will gather at a church on Saturday afternoon to remember Bradforth.

“Saturday at 1pm at First Assembly Church GCity Football will gather to remember Braedon Bradforth, come together to heal as a family. All are welcome, come support these men in this difficult time. Prayers, Hugs, Dog to Pet, Favorite Meal to share. Love and Support Welcome,” Sims tweeted.

A GoFundMe page says that Bradforth was “always looking for ways to help others,” and asks for financial assistance to return his body to New Jersey for a funeral.

Bradforth is the second football player at Garden City in a little over a year to die of natural causes.

Sean Callahan, 19, who played high school football at Gardner-Edgerton, died of what the Seward County Sheriff’s Office called natural causes.

“It’s a shame that this happened to such young men, and they were both really good dudes,” Sims said. “It’s heart breaking.”

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