Tragedy has struck Westlake High and its football team with the death of varsity team member Julius Poppinga on Wednesday.
Who was Julius Poppinga?
Julius Poppinga, the senior, who stood 6 feet 1 inches tall and weighs 230 pounds, reportedly had a serious asthma attack last week. In the hospital, he reportedly suffered a collapsed lung from which he never recovered.
For the Warriors, Poppinga played defensive end and offensive line. He played lacrosse for the team as well.
“On behalf of the entire Westlake High School community, we send our deepest condolences to Julius’ family, friends, teammates and everyone who had the pleasure of knowing and interacting with him,” Principal Jason Branham said in an email sent out to the school community. “At Westlake and throughout CVUSD, one of our greatest strengths is our caring and close community, which makes it all the more important that we continue to support and be there for one another in this incomprehensible time of loss and sadness.”
Westlake is scheduled to host Conejo Valley rival Thousand Oaks on Friday night. Its unclear if the status of the game will be affected.
According to a source who was not authorised to speak to The Times about the player’s health, Poppinga had previously experienced lung problems and had been hospitalised. Since participating in Westlake’s season-opening game against Taft on August 18, he had not participated in any games or practises. He was an end on defence.
When Poppinga appeared to be getting better this week, Westlake coach Mark Serve claimed to have visited the kid in his hospital bed.
“He didn’t want to talk about his health. He wanted to talk football,” Serve said. “We talked about him getting back on the field. I was texting last night letting him know ‘I love you.’ This morning, I got the news.”
Poppinga’s passing was announced to the players during a meeting. On Friday, the team will play Thousand Oaks. Serve claimed to have spoken with Poppinga’s father, who confirmed that Julius would have preferred the team to compete.
This incident adds to the school’s tragedies since last April, when a 15-year-old student was fatally injured when a driver rammed into a gathering of teenagers at a bus stop near Westlake.