(WXYZ) - A local hospital hopes to curb a dangerous trend with a free screening for student athletes, as players, coaches, and families say this often overlooked procedure may be the way to save young lives.
Get behind the plate of Novi High School's diamond, and you're likely to run into Mitch Hall's high heat.
"The best first pitch is a low fastball," said Hall, "3-2, I'm throwing my change-up."
Like many young athletes, Hall is a warrior during the game, which makes one pitch off the field a tough one for students to swing for.
It's a test that could potentially end Mitch's playing days. But this cardiac screening could save his life. And it's why Beaumont Hospital holds free community screenings for student athletes in the area.
"Almost all of them are perfectly healthy." said Dr. David Haines, "There are rare conditions, however, that can go in undetected."
Of the roughly 10,000 students screened, four were asked to stop playing sports completely, those were the four found to have life-threatening heart conditions.
"Often teenagers [think] they're invincible," said Novi High School Athletic Director Brian Gordon, "But not everybody's always going to be invincible."
A trophy case full of a father's pride now holds memories of what could have been for Toron Murphy, Sr. The son who shared his name showed promise on the gridiron, drawing college scouts from around the country, before January 15 th changed the course of Toron Murphy, Jr.'s life.
"I saw him that morning, getting ready to go to school because his mother takes him to school." said Murphy, "Maybe about an hour or two later, she called me and said he had collapsed at the school."
The Martin Luther King High School senior died later that day from an undetected enlarged heart just three months shy of his 18 th birthday.
"Just that smile is what I'm going to miss." said Murphy, Sr. "Every day."
"When you take a step back and realize that something like that can simply end your high school career and end your whole life, it's a lot to think about then." said Hall, who plans to attend the University of Michigan after graduating from Novi.
Most athletes know you need heart to play the game. But as too many learn too late, you need even more heart to know the game may be just that.
There are about 90 spots left for Beaumont's next free heart screening set for this Saturday, April 13th. To sign up your student athlete, call (800) 328-8542. Another free screening is scheduled for later this year in August.