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

Texas - WP: N. Martinez 7 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 2
Boston - LP: B. Workman 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: G. Cole 3
Toronto - LP: A. Sanchez 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 3
Washington - WP: G. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Hand 2
Los Angeles - WP: P. Rodriguez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: N. Ramirez 4
Cleveland - WP: K. Crockett 2 FINAL
Houston - LP: S. Deduno 1
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: S. Freeman 3
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 6 FINAL
Colorado - WP: L. Hawkins 7
Philadelphia - LP: K. Kendrick 3 FINAL
San Diego - WP: R. Erlin 7
Seattle - WP: T. Wilhelmsen 3 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: K. Jepsen 1
Tampa Bay 14 FINAL
Atlanta 56
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Toronto 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close