Winona State football player dies during workout


A Winona State University football player died during an on-campus workout Monday night, the Winona Daily News reports.

Shawn Afryl, 22, was practicing with a few teammates in a voluntary workout session at Maxwell Field and collapsed, according to a statement from the university.

According to the Daily News, paramedics were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead at a local hospital, said his former high school football coach Curtis Tate, who was visiting with Afryl’s family Tuesday. The Chicago Tribune reports Afryl had no known medical conditions, according to his mother.

Afryl graduated with a degree in political science from Illinois, but enrolled at Winona State to pursue a social studies teaching degree and continue playing football, according to the Tribune. He began attending classes this summer.

He is from Skokie, Illinois, and graduated from Niles West High School.

Afryl, an offensive lineman, last played in the 2012 season at the University of Illinois. He was listed at 6-foot-3, 310 pounds.

“In the time Shawn was on campus, he showed a lot of people what a great fit he was going to be not only for our football program but for our campus as well,” WSU football coach Tom Sawyer said in a statement. “He did an excellent job as a counselor during our team camps, and his leadership qualities and maturity were a valuable asset to our successful camps. He will be sorely missed.”

His mother, Sue, posted a request for donations to help defray funeral costs on the website, according to the Daily News. Donors have contributed close to $16,000 so far.

“My heart is aching,” Sue Afryl wrote on the site. “The pain is devistating (sic). He had the biggest heart in the world, and was a leader with kindness of soul. He was, and is, my hero.”

Sue Afryl said she hopes to set up a fund called the Shawn Patrick Afryl Shoe Fund to help young athletes in need purchase sports equipment, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The school said the cause of Afryl's death has not yet been confirmed, according to WCCO, although his former high school coach, Curtis Tate, told the Chicago Tribune the young man died of cardiac arrest.

WSU does not begin official football practices for the 2014 season until mid-August. Monday's workout was voluntary and run by the WSU strength and conditioning staff, WSU assistant coach Cameron Keller told the Daily News.

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