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Sports >  High school sports

Timberlake football coach Roy Albertson suffers heart attack at practice, undergoes surgery

Sept. 27, 2017 Updated Wed., Sept. 27, 2017 at 10:52 p.m.

Timberlake head football coach Roy Albertson talks to the team during practice in August, 2005. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Timberlake head football coach Roy Albertson talks to the team during practice in August, 2005. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Timberlake head football coach Roy Albertson told his assistant coaches he didn’t feel well as his players were stretching to start practice on Tuesday.

“He said he felt nauseous,” assistant coach Brian Kluss said.

Moments later, Albertson suffered a heart attack, collapsing to the ground, Kluss said.

That’s when instinct and training kicked in for Timberlake’s assistants. They used resuscitation measures – including shocking Albertson’s chest – Kluss said. In less than 10 minutes, a helicopter arrived at the Spirit Lake school and Albertson was flown to Kootenai Health, Kluss said.

“The coaches are all trained in CPR and we performed CPR on him and used our AED before the paramedics got to the field,” Kluss said. “He was alert and breathing when he left.”

Kluss was at the hospital into the evening on Tuesday.

“He was his normal self,” Kluss said. “He looked good and the doctors are confident he will not have anything but a good result from the surgery. The surgery was delayed until (Wednesday) because he responded so well to treatment and was not feeling chest pains.”

Albertson’s surgery reportedly went well.

Kluss will serve as interim head coach but said the duties will be shared. Timberlake’s game at Lakeland on Friday will be played, Kluss said.

“We told the boys we probably won’t see (Albertson) the rest of the season at practice or a game,” Kluss said. “We’re hoping to but we’re not likely going to see him.”

The coordination between coaches and a trainer who attended to Albertson impressed Kluss.

“It was like freaking clockwork,” Kluss said. “We’ve been trained so many times that the training really kicked in for the staff. It wasn’t until the AED shocked him that I realized it was a heart attack. All we knew is he passed out. But looking back on it we know what we were dealing with.”

Albertson, 69, is in his 15th season at Timberlake. He retired from Chewelah after the 2002 season and landed the following year in Spirit Lake.

He has a 173-104-1 overall record, 92-51 at Timberlake. He was a head coach for eight years at Chewelah, four in his first head coaching job at Dayton and spent 17 years at Kennewick, 13 under the late Ed Troxel.

Timberlake is 0-4 this season. The Tigers have captured 13 straight outright or shared Intermountain League championships.

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