One practice into the 2015 season, it quickly became evident the upcoming year would be about much more than wins and losses in Riverhead. The Blue Waves arrived for training camp in August as the No. 2 seed in Division II, eager to prepare for what promised to be a challenging schedule.
All of that suddenly took a back seat when a player collapsed at the end of the team’s first practice, an apparent victim of heatstroke.
In that moment, no one could have envisioned the struggle that would lie ahead for junior Nikolas Visco. What at first appeared a possible asthma attack in reality became a serious condition that threatened his life.
Visco was rushed to Peconic Bay Medical Center and then transferred to Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, where he remained for more than a month with “serious kidney damage.”
Riverhead football coach Leif Shay asked for the community’s prayers in the immediate aftermath of Visco’s story becoming public.
“This is one of our own,” Shay said.
The news hit especially hard considering it had been only 10 months since a Shoreham-Wading River football player died following a collision in a game.
When the Blue Waves defeated Half Hollow Hills East on Sept. 26, the team had more than a win to celebrate. Visco returned home that same weekend to begin the next phase of his recovery. Later in the season, he was able to join his teammates on the sideline during the team’s homecoming.
The Blue Waves went on to reach the playoffs again this year, but fell short in the first round to West Islip.
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