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Michigan youth soccer team takes CPR class after player suffers cardiac arrest during practice

14-year-old Jeff Soules went into cardiac arrest a few months ago during the CASSA soccer team's practice.

CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. — A boy's soccer team in Kent County is taking time off the field to learn how to save lives after one of their teammates almost lost his. Fourteen-year-old Jeff Soules went into cardiac arrest a few months ago during the CASSA soccer team's practice.

Now, the whole team is taking a CPR class to learn to help others in need.

"When they came up with this idea, it was just really heartwarming," Coach Adam Petty.

Soules was jogging with his team in October 2021, when he slowed down and then hit the ground. 

"I was running, and I felt like I couldn't breathe well," he says.

He passed out, and he says he doesn't remember what happened next for about four days. 

His friend, Eli, calls that moment 'really scary,' and he called on his teammates and coach to help.

"Eli stayed with me, and he was really helpful," Soules says. "He probably saved my life."

With the help of a dispatcher on the phone, Coach Petty performed CPR on Soules for about ten minutes.

"It was terrifying, honestly," he says. "It was hard. I don't know how long I did it. No idea on the time. Time at that point had no value. Around me, it was just getting crazy."

"It was really quite a shock for my husband and I," Kristi Soules, Jeff's mom, says.

She says her son spent days in the hospital, often sedated and on a ventilator. He got an implantable cardioverter defibrillator put in to help with his genetic heart condition. 

"The defibrillator is there for a worst case scenario, in case something like this were to happen again," she says. 

Soules teammates say it was important to them to learn how to perform CPR.

"You never know when you're gonna need it," Zachary V., one of the players, says. "It's better to learn earlier than never."

"We're a really good soccer team, but these are better young men," Coach Petty says.

Soules has been cleared for sports and he played in his first soccer game back on the team this past weekend.

"I think a lot of people might have a problem like I did and just not know about it," he says. "I feel like a lot of times, it's a big deal to know about [CPR] because you could save someone's life."

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