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Windsor High School Mourns the Loss of Football Player Elijah-Jay Rivera

A Tragic Incident at Practice

A Connecticut community is grieving the death of a high school football player who collapsed during practice on Tuesday. Elijah-Jay Mariano Rivera, a 15-year-old student at Windsor High School and a member of the football team, died after he lost consciousness during the afternoon practice, according to school officials. Rivera was not involved in any football drills or tackling at the time of the incident. He was taken to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, where he was pronounced dead.

“Sadly, the medical professionals were unable to revive him,” district superintendent Terrence Hill said in a letter to families on Tuesday. Hill also expressed his condolences to Rivera’s family and friends, and said that the district would provide counseling and support services to students and staff.

The cause of Rivera’s death is still unknown as of Wednesday. Hill said that the district is cooperating with the police and medical examiner’s office to determine what happened. He also asked the community to respect the privacy of Rivera’s family during this difficult time.

Windsor High School Mourns the Loss of Football Player Elijah-Jay Rivera

A Beloved Teammate and Friend

Rivera was affectionately known to his teammates as “Big Texas” because he had moved from Texas to Connecticut in June to focus on school and football, his mother Chastity Hernandez told Hearst Connecticut Media Group. Hernandez said that Rivera loved cars and football, and that his favorite NFL team was the Atlanta Falcons. She added that his dream was to play for the Falcons one day and live in Atlanta.

“He will be greatly missed,” Hernandez said. “But will always be remembered with that big smile on his face.”

Rivera’s teammates and coaches described him as a positive, uplifting, and hardworking person who always had a smile on his face. He played as an offensive lineman for the Windsor Warriors, and wore the number 77 jersey.

“He’s a great dude, uplifting dude,” Chase Royal, a senior captain of the team, told WFSB in Connecticut. “Every time you see him he’s (got) smiles on his face. He loved to be around, he loved the community. He’s a genuine guy.”

Coach Rob Fleeting said that Rivera was a joy to coach and a leader on the team. He said that Rivera had a bright future ahead of him, both on and off the field.

“He was just a great kid,” Fleeting said. “He was one of those kids that you wanted to be around.”

A Community in Mourning

The Windsor community came together on Tuesday night to honor Rivera’s memory and support his family and friends. A candlelight vigil was held on the football field, where hundreds of people gathered to pray, sing, and share their stories about Rivera. Some of his teammates carried his jersey and helmet onto the field, while others wore shirts with his name and number.

The vigil was attended by students, staff, parents, alumni, and members of other schools’ football teams. Many people expressed their shock and sadness over Rivera’s sudden death, and offered their condolences to his loved ones.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Windsor Mayor Donald Trinks told the Hartford Courant. “A 15 year old kid, playing a sport he loved … you can’t rationalize it in any way.”

The Windsor football team said that they would dedicate the rest of the season to Rivera, and that they would walk onto the field with his jersey at their next home game. They also thanked the community for their support and asked for prayers for Rivera’s family.

“We are all hurting right now,” the team wrote on Twitter. “We love you Big Texas.”

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