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Schoffel: A thrilling Seminole win, a heart attack, a chop for the ages

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Involved Push

There is no telling how several situations Michael Fernandez’s father has carried out the chop at Florida State sporting situations.

Given that attending the university in the early 1960s, he has been a soccer season ticket holder, a rabid lover of all FSU sports activities and an energetic member of Seminole Boosters.

He has bled garnet and gold for more than 50 years.

In the late 1970s, he was a driving drive guiding the initially FSU booster club in St. Petersburg. He was so tireless in his assistance of Seminole athletics that his son remembers Bobby Bowden coming by the residence to stop by.

“This man is the epitome of a Florida State lover … for existence, man,” Fernandez said. “By way of thick and thin, the guy’s been good. He’s like the excellent lover.”

‘He’s this kind of a die-difficult ‘Nole’

Saturday morning commenced like so several many others for the Fernandez relatives.

Michael and his father, who is now 77, remaining their homes in close proximity to St. Pete and produced the more than 4-hour generate to Tallahassee. The patriarch isn’t going to make it up for as several situations as he applied to — he a short while ago gave up his soccer season tickets following several years — so Michael was fired up to carry him back up for Saturday’s men’s basketball recreation among No. 16 Louisville and the No. 22 Seminoles.

“We’re equally die-difficult Noles,” said Michael, who graduated from Florida State in 1991 and now has a daughter attending the school. “We hadn’t gone to a recreation together in awhile, so I thought it would be a fantastic father-son factor to do.”

It was a excellent trip, in so several approaches.

The father and son chatted the entire way up. They talked about sports activities and relatives, reminisced about previous game titles and talked over the condition of the soccer plan. Michael listened to his father relive previous recollections, like sitting down in the stands and observing Fred Biletnikoff support the ‘Noles record their initially earn around rival Florida back in ’64.

“He was at that recreation!” Fernandez said in a tone of amazement.

Like all longtime Florida State lovers, they have noticed so several wins and defeats. Celebrated nationwide championships. Lamented losses to rivals.

In that regard, as properly, Saturday was this kind of a fantastic working day.

Florida State bought off to a sluggish start off and had to claw from guiding the total recreation. The Cardinals have been the aggressor early, they strike some big photographs in the 2nd 50 percent and out of the blue led by 10 factors with considerably less than 10 minutes remaining.

The Seminoles retained battling back, nevertheless, and sooner or later pressured the recreation into extra time, wherever they would roll to an 80-75 victory.

It was a thrilling recreation. A wonderful earn. The kind Fernandez and his father will very likely reminisce about for years to arrive, even if the 77-12 months-previous didn’t exactly get pleasure from every single minute at the time.

“He gets so extreme that he occasionally just cannot enjoy game titles on Tv set,” Michael said. “When the game titles get that tense when he’s observing at property, he occasionally will turn the game titles off. He just cannot enjoy for the reason that he gets so nervous — he’s that into it.

“He’s this kind of a die-difficult ‘Nole. I indicate virtually.”

‘I never sense so good’

When Saturday’s recreation ended, the cheers subsided and the lovers commenced heading for the exits, Michael and his father had 1 very last bit of unfinished business enterprise. They strolled towards the center of the court to get a closer perspective of famous ESPN announcer Dick Vitale.

Probably they would say hello there and share how substantially they get pleasure from his get the job done. Probably they’d just enjoy him complete the broadcast.

As it turned out, they would get the probability to do neither.

As soon as they approached the announcers’ location, Fernandez’s father grabbed a seat in the fourth row and quietly said to his son, “I never sense so fantastic.”

Michael, who is effective in healthcare and could see the distress in his father’s confront, didn’t squander a minute asking inquiries. He sprinted up the arena ways and found a Tucker Center staff members member, who immediately radioed for support.

By the time Michael raced back to his father’s facet, a firefighter/paramedic and a Florida State University Law enforcement officer, Sgt. Jeremy Izquierdo, have been by his facet.

The father was encountering upper body pains and sliding in and out of consciousness.

“He did not glimpse fantastic,” Michael said. “We had to physically carry him down to the court. He could not stroll.”

Most of the subsequent numerous minutes have been a blur filled with adrenaline and worry.

“Remain with me. Remain with me.”

Which is what Michael remembers telling his father around and around.

Instantly, they have been surrounded by folks rushing in distinctive directions. Anyone calling for an ambulance. Anyone locating a transportable oxygen tank. Anyone calling the locker area for FSU’s team doctors — Dr. Todd Hewitt and Dr. Jason Oberste.

“The initially responders have been superb,” Fernandez said. “He was seriously struggling. But as soon as they laid him on the court, and they put the oxygen on him, the doctors came out of the locker area and they commenced speaking to him and asking inquiries. He was answering the inquiries — he was continue to in soreness, but he was answering the inquiries.

“They did a phenomenal job. I’m so thankful for them, for the reason that they have been there in advance of the ambulance bought there.”

What Fernandez didn’t recognize was that a team of about 100 lovers also remained in the stands observing the drama unfold.

They stood silently as his father was stretched out on the basketball court flooring. They very likely said prayers as 1 of the personnel commenced accomplishing upper body compressions to maintain his weakened heart beating.

For numerous minutes, there have been no visual signs of whether or not the longtime Florida State lover was likely to make it out of the creating alive.

A chop and a cheer

Michael Fernandez continue to cannot believe he didn’t see it. He thinks he was busy speaking with 1 of the team doctors or 1 of the initially responders.

Almost everything was a blur.

The ambulance had just pulled into 1 corner of the Tucker Center, and his father was starting to present present signs of enhancement. He was emotion so substantially better that he essentially sat up slowly and gradually on his personal.

Within an instantaneous, the anxious lovers in the stands enable out a cheer of assistance and applause.

“That was fairly neat,” Fernandez said. “We didn’t even know folks have been observing.”

Then a minute afterwards, there was an even louder cheer.

Whilst Fernandez had his back turned, his father did the 1 factor that came natural in his groggy condition.

In advance of receiving on to a stretcher, remaining carried into the ambulance and pushed to Tallahassee Memorial Health care, the 77-12 months-previous die-difficult Seminole lifted 1 of his arms, turned towards the lovers and did Florida State’s legendary chop.

“I didn’t even see it,” his son said, “but I read the group answer.”

Confused and overjoyed

It was essentially more than an hour afterwards that Fernandez initially learned what his father had carried out. How he grew to become the subject of a viral submit on the social networking app Twitter.

Fernandez has a Twitter account and checks it once in a while. The very last submit he produced in advance of Saturday was in 2016. In advance of that, his very last exercise was retweeting a submit by previous FSU quarterback EJ Manuel in 2012.

But there would be no missing this trending subject matter.

The submit was “appreciated” and retweeted by numerous thousand lovers — from Florida State and past.

Even supporters of other educational institutions could recognize the passion.

Whilst sitting down in the hospital, Fernandez quickly requested his father if this was genuine. Was he seriously accomplishing the chop in the midst of possessing what medical doctors afterwards identified to be a moderate heart assault?

“Certainly, I was accomplishing it,” the father responded.

Of course he was. How else would a ‘Nole explain to other ‘Noles that he’s not carried out yet?

When Fernandez responded to the first tweet to enable absolutely everyone know that his father was recovering in the hospital, he seriously came to comprehend the access of social media and the passion of the Florida State lover base.

Within minutes, he was obtaining scores of properly-wishes from complete strangers. Then came the textual content messages and cell phone calls from good friends and relatives.

“Now I’m receiving calls from my buddies in Denver and Dallas indicating, ‘Hey, is that your dad?!’” Fernandez said with a chuckle. “They have been reading through about it on Twitter and on Warchant.

“I’ve just been thoroughly blown absent by all the assistance from these random strangers, all these folks achieving out and indicating, ‘Prayers for your dad.’ It’s heartwarming, man. It’s mad, I never would’ve predicted it.

“It just goes to present how fantastic our lovers are, no make a difference what. So what we had a terrible season in soccer … we have a damn fantastic lover base. And I’ll be a ‘Nole for existence, but this kind of reinforces it for me. And I’ve been a lover considering the fact that I was 10 years previous.”

Fernandez said his father appreciates the assistance as properly — “I go through him some of the responses on Twitter, and he cannot believe it” — even though he is a very little bit humiliated about all the focus. For that motive, the father requested not to have his title posted in this write-up.

Michael at first regarded not granting an interview as properly, which is thoroughly easy to understand. Right after observing your father suffer a heart assault and then bear an emergency healthcare technique at the hospital, speaking with a reporter just isn’t typically the desired subsequent action.

But Michael determined to go in advance with it for two motives.

Variety 1, he preferred to personally — and publicly — thank the initially responders, team doctors and many others who assisted help save his father’s existence. And number two, he preferred his father’s really like for Florida State to be celebrated.

“I recognize you accomplishing this, for the reason that I’m happy of him for remaining a lifelong ‘Nole,” Fernandez said. “He’s put so substantially time and power and revenue into supporting the plan … he’s been a booster endlessly.”

By the time we talked Sunday afternoon, Fernandez had so substantially to be thankful for. The fast response on Saturday, the high quality treatment around the weekend, and the actuality that his father appears to be on the path to a comprehensive restoration.

“He should really be wonderful, thank God,” Fernandez said. “It could’ve been seriously terrible.”

If the heart assault had took place 10 or 15 minutes before, it may have interrupted the recreation. If it had took place 10 or 15 minutes afterwards, they could have been in the car caught in visitors.

Alternatively, Fernandez and his father have been suitable wherever they have been meant to be.

Surrounded by fellow Seminoles.

Undertaking the chop following one more FSU victory.

“The chop was just brilliant,” Fernandez said. “It should really be like a symbol for one thing. We’ve had a rough 12 months at FSU. We’ve all been let down. But this is a very little more than just about successful or losing soccer game titles.”

It is, indeed.

Get hold of Warchant taking care of editor Ira Schoffel at [email protected] and comply with @IraSchoffel on Twitter.


Talk about this story with other Florida State soccer lovers in the Tribal Council

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