ROY — Quick treatment and keen medical personnel helped avoid a disaster for Roy High football head coach Fred Fernandes, according to those around the program.
Fernandes fell ill at a practice Monday, feeling dizzy and short of breath, Roy defensive coordinator Eric Jones said.
A school trainer checked Fernandes and had concerns about his blood pressure, so paramedics responded. Jones said one paramedic said something wasn’t right and, later at a hospital, an angiogram revealed several blockages near his heart.
He underwent six-bypass, open-heart surgery Wednesday, which Roy athletic director Mike Puzey characterized as successful.
Jones said the timing prevented something more serious from occurring.
“It’s fortunate our trainer and the paramedic caught it before something terrible happened,” Jones said. “We’re focused on his health. It’s been cool to see the support he and his family have been getting. Coaches are contacting me from Pleasant Grove and all over the place to say they’ll help us however they can. You see how many people think highly of Fred in times like this, and rightfully so.”
Jones said signs are good, and that Fernandes is recovering well and feeling optimistic about coaching in a few weeks, though a timetable hasn’t been set for his return to the sidelines.
Puzey said people are already rallying with “love and prayers” for Fernandes and his family.
“He means a great deal to our school, but also to our community,” Puzey said. “Where he’s a Royal himself, it’s been one of those storybook stories. I don’t think words can express what Fred Fernandes means to Roy High.”
The night before his procedure, Fernandes told Puzey to first tell his players he loves them and second, “tell them to be ready, because I’ll be back,” the latter related.
Roy opens the 2018 season on Aug. 17 at Syracuse. No interim head coach has been assigned, Jones said.
“The good thing about our coaching staff is we’ve been together for a long time now, so it’s business as usual for the most part — not that you can replace how Fred runs practice or calls plays, but we’re not deviating from the program he runs,” Jones said.
Fernandes is 46-23 in seven seasons as Roy’s head coach, previously having been a head coach at Northridge and Woods Cross high schools.