Page 5 of 5 Previous

Continued: Gophers coach Jerry Kill tackles epilepsy at pivotal point in his career

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 10, 2013 - 4:30 PM

Last fall was an extreme test.

Besides the swaying emotions from a 6-7 season, Kill dealt with two public-relations fallouts.

First, the Gophers announced they were paying $800,000 to remove two games against North Carolina from future schedules. Then receiver A.J. Barker quit the team, criticizing Kill sharply in a 4,100-word blog post.

That wasn’t the worst of it for Kill. His brother-in-law, Don Smith, flew in for the Michigan game and suffered a severe allergic reaction at the stadium. Smith lost oxygen to his brain and fell into a coma. Rebecca Kill spent much of November at her brother’s hospital bedside before he was pronounced dead. He was 53.

“Jerry would go do what he had to do at the office, and then come check on me and my brother in the hospital,” she said. “I kept thinking, ‘Jerry, you’re going to wear yourself out.’ ”

She was in a stadium suite for the Michigan State game when she learned of Kill’s seizure. She spent the second half with her husband in the training room, then drove to their home in Minneapolis.

“I think this is how his body reacts to certain things, when it hits a wall, so to speak,” she said. “Some people have migraines. I’m not a doctor, but I’ve been around it.”

***

At the football complex, Kill is surrounded by others who understand his epilepsy well. Most of his assistant coaches have been with him for more than a decade. They know their roles if Kill has to leave a game, and the players are prepared, too.

“Coach Kill’s done a great job of keeping us up to date on his situation,” Gophers senior Brock Vereen said. “So now we know when it happens, everything’s going to be fine. There’s no need to panic. It’s not the end of the world.”

Teague repeatedly has praised Kill’s coaching efforts.

Asked via e-mail how the Gophers would handle fan perception if there’s another in-game seizure, Teague responded: “Obviously, we would hope we don’t have another situation. However, we are prepared to manage it both internally and externally.”

Kill said one mistake after taking the Minnesota job was not switching to a local epileptologist. At Northern Illinois, he worked closely with a doctor from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. After his 2011 seizure struggles, he went to the Mayo Clinic.

“I jumped into the job going 110 miles per hour, and we had so much work to do, I didn’t pay enough attention,” Kill said. “I thought we could go long distance [with the Northwestern doctor], so I got a wake-up call.”

Now, Kill is under closer medical surveillance, with his wife serving as the doctor’s second set of eyes.

To help relax and get his exercise, he goes for a long walk almost every day. Often, he waits until after work and walks with her from their downtown Minneapolis townhouse along the Mississippi River.

“There are no guarantees in life,” Kill said. “But right now, kind of like our football program, I think I’m heading in the right direction.”











 

  • related content

  • Video: Not letting epilepsy define him

    Sunday August 11, 2013

    Jerry Kill talks about his life with seizures and his work with the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota.

  • Kill audio: 'Come see me, I'll show you how damn tough I am'

    Sunday August 11, 2013

    Audio from Minnesota coach Jerry Kill's weekly radio show when he discusses epilepsy, and the e-mail he received calling him a "freak."

  • Poll: As a Gophers fan, how concerned are you about Jerry Kill's seizures?

    Saturday August 10, 2013

  • Photo gallery: Jerry Kill tackles epilepsy head-on

    Sunday August 11, 2013

    The Gophers coach has come to a pivotal juncture in his eight-year quest to gain control of his seizures.

  • Chart: Timeline of Jerry Kill's seizures

    Saturday September 14, 2013

    A look at when and where seizures have stricken coach Jerry Kill:2000At home, day after game for Emporia State2005On sidelines,...

  • Chart: Epilepsy facts

    Saturday August 10, 2013

    • People have epilepsy when they’ve had two or more unprovoked seizures.• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates...

  • Christensen blog: Kill opens up when many are still silent

    Saturday August 10, 2013

    I've learned a lot about epilepsy over the past six weeks, and one things that stands out is how difficult it is for most people to talk about it.

  • University of Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill and his wife Rebecca walked the trail along the Mississippi River near downtown Minneapolis Saturday, July 27, 2013.](DAVID JOLES/STARTRIBUNE) djoles@startribune.com University of Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill talks about handling his seizures and his expectations for the coming football season.

  • After his seizure late in the 2011 New Mexico game, Kill was carted out of a hushed TCF Bank Stadium.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

St. Louis 6 Top 8th Inning
Chicago Cubs 7
Toronto - M. Buehrle 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - H. Kuroda
Arizona - W. Miley 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick
Washington - T. Roark 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - A. Simon
Boston - J. Lester 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - D. Price
San Diego - J. Hahn 6:35 PM
Atlanta - A. Wood
Oakland - J. Hammel 7:05 PM
Texas - J. Williams
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler 7:10 PM
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo
Miami - B. Hand 7:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Chicago WSox - J. Danks 7:10 PM
Minnesota - K. Correia
Cleveland - J. Tomlin 7:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Pittsburgh - C. Morton 7:40 PM
Colorado - B. Anderson
Detroit - D. Smyly 9:05 PM
LA Angels - T. Skaggs
Baltimore - K. Gausman 9:10 PM
Seattle - F. Hernandez
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 9:15 PM
San Francisco - T. Lincecum
Chivas USA 8:30 PM
Colorado
Calgary 26 FINAL
Edmonton 22
Winnipeg 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 7/26/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 7/26/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 8/1/14 6:00 PM
Montreal
Brt Columbia 8/1/14 9:00 PM
Calgary
Saskatchewan 8/2/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Tulsa 6:00 PM
Washington
Chicago 6:30 PM
Atlanta
San Antonio 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which upcoming event are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close