MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — At 6-foot-2-inches tall and weighing around 300 pounds, football nose guard Zach Zarembinski is an imposing player on the field.
But tragically, the Hill-Murray School senior is now at St. Paul’s Regions Hospital, where he remains sedated in the Intensive Care Unit. He was rushed there Saturday afternoon after collapsing along the sidelines during the third quarter of the team’s playoff game.
“I’ve been around this game for, you know, most of my life and never had seen anything like this,” said Head Coach Pete Bercich.
The former Minnesota Vikings linebacker cannot recall Zarembinski suffering any major hits to the head during the game, and says it does not appear to be the result of a concussion.
At one point during the game against St. Paul Johnson Senior High School, Zarembinski said he was not feeling well. Soon after, while standing along the sidelines in the third quarter, he suddenly collapsed.
Still, what led to the brain hemorrhage is unclear. Coach Bercich credits the fast actions of trainers and paramedics for getting Zarembinski to the hospital so quickly.
“When we look back on this, we’ll know that immediate response saved his life,” Bercich said.
Surgeons at Regions removed a portion of Zarembinski’s scull to relieve swelling. He remains on a ventilator and in a medically-induced coma.
Bercich says the senior was having a great year and worked hard in the offseason with Mike Morris — the former Viking and Bercich teammate — in strength training. Zarembinski was hoping to catch the eyes of college recruiters.
“He’s a tough kid, a hardworking kid, you know, blue collar and hard-nosed-type kid and he’s, you know, battling that way right now,” Bercich said.
Meantime, Zarembinski’s Hill-Murray classmates are sounding a rallying cry: #ZZStrong72.
When Bercich stopped at his hospital bedside Tuesday evening, Zarembinski opened his eyes and even flashed a thumbs up.
Zarembinski’s sister, Becca wrote on his CaringBridge site, “This brought tears to our eyes and gives us hope.”
On Thursday, Mass will be held at 9:15 a.m. at Hill-Murray School fieldhouse. Everyone is encouraged to wear green — the school’s colors — to show support for Zarembinski and his family.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help the Zarembinski’s with their medical bills.