High School Football

‘JUST GLAD TO BE ALIVE’

Heart ailment sidelines Mustangs captain Ivey

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 11/16/20

After breaking up a pass late during the fourth quarter of Taylor’s 31-14 win over Morton Ranch on Oct. 10, Mustangs senior cornerback Cecil Ivey II jumped around in celebratory fashion and ran off the field.

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High School Football

‘JUST GLAD TO BE ALIVE’

Heart ailment sidelines Mustangs captain Ivey

Posted

After breaking up a pass late during the fourth quarter of Taylor’s 31-14 win over Morton Ranch on Oct. 10, Mustangs senior cornerback Cecil Ivey II jumped around in celebratory fashion and ran off the field.

“I felt dizzy, light-headed, and thought I just needed some water, so I ran off,” Ivey said.

And then … darkness.

“All of a sudden, everything slowly around me goes black,” Ivey said. “I don’t even remember what happened. I woke up to (defensive coordinator) Coach (J) Jensen and (head) Coach (Chad) Simmons and everybody around me.”

When Ivey came to, he remembered his mom hustling from the stands, trying to get onto the field. He guessed he was passed out at least 30 seconds. He was taken to ER Katy, diagnosed with high troponin levels (which increase when the heart is damaged) and eventually transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital downtown to see a cardiology specialist.

“Heart rate off the charts, blood pressure up. Yeah, it was scary, especially at that age,” Simmons said. “He seemed to be perfectly healthy before.”

Ivey had high troponin levels and palpitations (bothersome sensations of the heart) throughout his week-and-a-half stay at Texas Children’s. A few days after the Morton Ranch game, he was told by doctors his senior season was done.

On Oct. 15, Ivey, elected by teammates as a team captain this season, tweeted that his senior year ended shorter than he expected due to unknown heart problems.

“There were definitely tears,” Ivey said. “I was crying for a while.”

There was a slight possibility Ivey could have returned this season should Taylor, which has realistic state championship aspirations, make it to the third or fourth round of the playoffs in January. Ivey and doctors were optimistic rest would help alleviate the issue.

But on Oct. 30, a genetic test showed Ivey had arrhythmic cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle. Another visit to the cardiologist on Nov. 9 showed a gene mutation had created that disease.

Ivey was told that his football career was over.

“No more athletic stuff for the rest of my life,” Ivey said. “Can’t run or anything.”

Ivey said the cardiologist told him he was really lucky to wake back up during the Morton Ranch game.

“If they wouldn’t have caught this, I could have ended up in cardiac arrest in one of my games or died at an early age,” Ivey said.

Ivey has mixed reactions to it all. In a little more than a month, he went from invaluable contributor to a strong Taylor team to being told he’d have to hang up his cleats for good.

“At first, I didn’t know how to take it,” he said. “Like, I still can’t believe all of this is happening to me. But I’m just glad I’m alive.”

Doctors initially told Ivey he put so much stress on his heart from overworking it. He admits he did, training “10 times harder” this season than he ever had before.

His unrelenting work ethic caught up to him. Ivey’s typical days, flexible because of his participation in the district’s Katy Virtual Academy schooling, were consumed with training.

Mornings consisted of body workouts (sit-ups, pushups, jumping jacks, and jump rope work). Practice was held in the afternoon into the late evening. Then Ivey had another workout session with a personal trainer that emphasized lifting weights and defensive back drills.

Finally, before he went to bed, Ivey did a final set of body workouts.

“I was really pushing myself,” Ivey said. “I was upset I wasn’t at least second team all-district last year and I wanted to prove to everybody that, even though I’m small, I’m a big dog. I wanted to be first team all-district. I knew I had to work 10 times as much as other DBs in the district.”

At 5-foot-6, 165 pounds, Ivey, who was offered a scholarship to play at NCAA Division II Eastern New Mexico a few months ago, played with a considerable chip on his shoulder during his three years of varsity.

“You feel so bad for him and what he’s having to go through,” Jensen said. “We know the hard work he’s put in to be successful. He’s been one of our hardest-working guys who brightens up any room he’s in.”

Ivey, affectionately nicknamed “the X-Factor” by his coaches, played everywhere for the Mustangs. As a freshman, he was a cornerback and receiver. As a sophomore, he added kick returner and punt returner to his duties. As a junior last season, he played cornerback, safety and some spot receiver.

Last season, Ivey, appreciated for his technique and competitiveness in coverage, averaged 3.2 tackles per game to go with four interceptions, eight pass breakups and two fumble recoveries for a state semifinalist team. This season, he was averaging 3.7 tackles and allowed the Mustangs the luxury of putting him on an opponent’s top receiver without any help.

Ivey said he recently earned his real estate and insurance adjuster licenses. He still plans to be around the team at practices and games.

“Coach Jensen would always tell me to never take anything for granted,” Ivey said. “It could be taken from you at any moment, and I always took that to heart.

“The coaches have always been there for me and are still here for me. I’m just grateful to have coaches like them.”

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