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Students, Staff Grieving After Sudden Death Of Rugby Coach

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(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Students and staff at a Minnetonka school are grieving after the sudden death of a 21-year-old volunteer rugby coach, Kody Henslee. Henslee collapsed during practice Tuesday night at the Minnetonka High School gym.

His family says the cause of death was sudden heart failure.

According to Henslee’s family, the death was a complete shock because Henslee had no history of heart problems. He collapsed halfway through a two-hour practice — the only warning sign came when he complained of being lightheaded.

Henslee loved rugby so much that he tried out for the Minnetonka rugby team in 8th grade and played for five years until he graduated in 2011. Since graduation, he has come back to Minnetonka High School and volunteered as an assistant coach. That is what he was doing Tuesday night

“He was running,” said Assistant Minnetonka Rugby Coach Grant Hendrickson. “He seemed fine and he said he was lightheaded and he sat down and a little later, I looked over and you could tell it wasn’t good.”

A parent who is an EMT began working on him immediately. Students rushed to grab a defibulator that was at the entrance to the gym. Hendrickson ran to get an athletic trainer.

“By the time I got back, the cops were already there,” he said. “Shortly thereafter, the paramedics were there so there was no delay.”

Henslee was studying to be a nurse and is described as being devoted to his family, especially his mother. Counselors have been available to help students and staff.

“He was such a great kid that had such a positive influence on so many people,” Hendrickson said. “He is going to be sorely missed.”

The cause of Henslee’s heart failure is not yet known. Dr. Demetris Yannopoulos of the University of Minnesota said unexpected cardiac deaths in young people are generally caused by either a congenital abnormality or a genetic mutation that can often be detected with certain types of screening.

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