As the football season begins, University of Minnesota coach Jerry Kill has found a new doctor, changed medication, tweaked his diet and added an exercise plan. He has also adopted a frank new approach to a disorder he was diagnosed with eight years ago. Kill now uses the word epilepsy instead of talking about his condition as a 'seizure disorder.'
In a front page story in Sunday's Star Tribune, Kill, 51, said he feels better than he has since the time of his diagnosis. He addressed the five documented seizures he has experienced since assuming the job at Minnesota. The first came in 2011 during a game at TCF Bank Stadium when he dropped to a knee and started having convulsions.
“He was kind of in denial all through the years, that he really didn’t have [epilepsy),” his wife Rebecca said.
That's changed. Kill will be featured in public-service announcements for the Epilepsy Foundation and the Gophers will hold a second epilepsy awareness game on Oct. 26 against Nebraska.
Most of his assistant coaches have been with him for more than a decade. They, and Gophers players, are informed about Kill's condition.
“Coach Kill’s done a great job of keeping us up to date on his situation,” Gophers senior Brock Vereen said.
Kill told the newspaper that he is working with a new specialist: Dr. Ilo Leppik, the director of research at MINCEP Epilepsy Care, a level-four Minneapolis treatment center.To help control his seizures, Kill takes a medication called Keppra.
Experts say about 70 percent of the people with epilepsy can become seizure-free with the right medication. Kill insists he’s making progress. Asked how many seizures he’s had since November, Kill declined to say.
“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.”