Colville football player succumbs to brain injury sustained during a game

By: 
Taylor Newquist
Sports Editor

Black shirts with a bold 35 on the back were worn all around Yep Kanum Park Saturday. At exactly noon, the somber silence of the people gathered there was broken by a united prayer.

That same moment, Dale Martin — an 18-year-old Colville High School senior — was scheduled to be taken off life support at Providence Mount Carmel Hospital.

Martin, a running back and defensive end on the football team, suffered a brain injury late in the third quarter of an April 1 game. He collapsed on the field and was taken in an ambulance to the hospital, where according to sources close to the situation, he required emergency surgery and was being medically sedated all last week.

Friday night, family friend David Goble made the announcement on Facebook that Martin’s injuries were too severe to survive. Family and friends held a hero walk for Martin, who was taken to the operating room to donate his organs, in what Colville head coach Greg Mace called, “One final selfless act.”

On Saturday, the cold, grey and gloomy skies that hung above Colville matched the emotion of the community. Tears were shed awaiting the result at the hospital, and the gathering at Yep Kanum Park continued to grow over the coming hours. People shared memories of Martin, grieved and made donations to the family.

Martin was remembered as determined, funny, and an all-around joy to be around by his classmates and teammates. Many left messages for him in a notebook passed around the park, which can be found in this week’s edition of the Statesman Examiner.

Martin’s passing shook not only the Colville community, but thousands across the state. Football teams, parents and media members reached out to send their condolences with one word as the common thread — heartbreaking.

Colville is not alone in experiencing this tragedy. A 2013 study by the American Sports Journal found that just above 12 high school and college football players pass away each year, with 243 football-related fatalities between 1990 and 2010. Brain injury was the second-leading cause at 25.5%, behind cardiac failure, as the most prominent cause of death.

Colville’s final two spring football games were canceled last week.

Martin’s impact and legacy will live on in the program and community forever. A banner with his picture was signed by people in the park and will be displayed in CHS.

Find the messages by community members for Dale Martin in the April 14, 2021 edition of the Statesman Examiner.

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