Ozarks Life: Eric Crain's heart attack can't keep him from the state playoffs

The quick reaction made the difference between him being with his team now and facing something much more serious.
Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 8:14 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Next week will be the state championships for high school baseball and soccer in Missouri.

While all teams have overcome a lot to complete their seasons, New Covenant Academy has had an extra hurdle to overcome.

“We have a very small team,” senior Madison Seevers said, “we come together a lot.”

A team’s chemistry usually start with the head coach who often tells the team the cliche of leaving their hearts on the field.

Looking for a second straight trip to the State Final Four, Eric Crain’s ladies looked like they didn’t missed a beat in 2021.

But it’s a painful beat that put the season into perspective.

“April 26th, it was a Saturday,” Crain said.

Eric and his wife Erica were enjoying a normal, weekend afternoon.

A little shopping at the mall after some yard work.

“Pulled into Dillards and walked down to Old Navy,” Crain said. “Something wasn’t right.”

“Didn’t make a big deal out of it, my wife Erica went into Old Navy, I sat in the chairs right outside the thing and good thing for Google. My left arm ached, pain between shoulder blades between the neck.”

The couple drove to Cox Hospital and sat and thought.

Eric’s grandpa, dad, and brother all had heart attacks.

“I always knew at some point I would deal with this,” Crain said, “didn’t expect it this soon, but always in the back of my mind.”

“Sat at Cox for 30-minutes,” Crain said, “I didn’t want to go in and make something bigger than it needed to be.”

Eric’s pain subsided, so the couple left, but within a hour the symptoms returned. Back to Cox they went. Eric was admitted and his chest was cut open.

The arteries to his heart were indeed blocked.

“The right was gone and the left, which they call “The Widow Maker” was 98%,” Crain said.

That was on top of a birth defect to his heart that threatened his life.

The prognosis: - life would be normal by late June - after the soccer season.

“Not having him for a little bit brought the vibe down a little bit, but we kept playing for him,” Seevers said.

And their coach kept pushing.

Surgery on a Monday. Eric was released on a Friday where instead of resting he went to watch his team.

“As long as I could sit in the car, recline the seat back, I was going to get to that game,” Crain said. “I had my wife drive back so I could watch.”

New Covenant won that game 6-2 with Eric’s daughter, Anna scoring four-goals. Afterwards, he had a brief reunion with his team.

“We were like, ‘coach is here; we have to play our best,’ and we did,” Anna said.

“It made everyone so happy and we got more confident,” Seevers said.

And Eric got more confidence. The 44-years-old coach returned to the sidelines three weeks after surgery

New Covenant wrapped up a district title, the second in school history, and once again Anna was front and center. She scored a PK in the 3-2 win. NCA avenges a shutout loss to the same team from earlier in the season.

“So I think it’s just him working hard to get out there for us, so we need to do the same,” Anna said.

Eric is back so quick thanks to listening to his body.

The quick reaction made the difference between him being with his team now and facing something much more serious.

“You’re the best person to know your body,” Crain said. “God’s timing is perfect with it happening now, I’m young and healthy.”

New Covenant Academy plays Crocker Saturday in the State Quarterfinals.

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