South Panola football

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Heart trouble takes Tank Hardrick  out of the game

By Myra Bean

A timed run almost turned into tragedy for a South Panola football player.

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Justin “Tank” Hardrick was going about his normal summer conditioning workout Thursday, June 28, when he suddenly felt dizzy.

“I tried to go for the bench on the track,” Hardrick said in a Monday morning telephone interview. “Next thing I know, a coach was standing over me patting me on the cheek asking if I was alright.”

The South Panola senior defensive end and other players were being timed on a lap around the track when suddenly they saw Hardrick fall over the bench on the sidelines and he did not immediately get up.

Paramedic help was immediately called and then Air Evac was summoned to fly him to The Med in Memphis.

“The coach asked me if I could get up and I told him I couldn’t feel my legs,” Hardrick said. “‘You can’t feel me holding your leg?’ the coach asked me. I said no.”

He was diagnosed with a pinched nerve in his back and released to go home the next day on Friday.

Sunday morning  Hardrick woke with chest pains, nausea and more dizziness and his mother, Weida, immediately took him to Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford.

“They said I had an enlarged heart muscle,” Hardrick said. “They did not have the equipment I needed in Oxford so they took me to Tupelo in an ambulance.”

In Tupelo, they ran the dye through his heart.

“They said in Tupelo my heart was two times the size it was supposed to be,” Hardrick continued.

Hardrick now has a defibrillator in his chest he will have to wear the rest of his life.

“There is no more football or track for me,” he said. “I really can’t get too excited.”

Hardrick has developed a genetic heart condition that is prevalent in his mother’s family. He said his aunt who is 40 years old was diagnosed with congestive heart failure when she was 16.

This was the first time the heart condition had affected Hardrick.

“Before then I was healthy as a horse,” he said. “Don’t be sorry for me. I’m living, aren’t I?”

Hardrick plans to visit the field house today to show his teammates he is alright. He is getting out visiting relatives from time to time.

“Don’t be surprised to see me with a cane,” he said.