Towns deal with death, injury of athletes


Wednesday, September 8th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Rumors swirled that Wynnewood would cancel the remaining nine games of its football season as its star player
lay comatose in an Oklahoma City hospital.

But Bruce Hendrickson, coach of the No. 3 2A team, said such an
option was never considered.

"I've had to bury several of my players who have died in car
wrecks," Hendrickson said. "Just because that happened, you don't
go out and throw away the keys to your car and say you'll never
drive again."

It won't be the same, however, for the Savages, who are
preoccupied with the status of teammate Daniel Knowles.

Knowles, a 6-foot, 195-pound junior tailback, collapsed on the
field after suffering what doctors believe was a stroke during
Friday's season-opener against Sulphur.

Knowles, the state's leading rusher last season, has been
unconscious and remains comatose and in critical condition at
University Hospital. Doctors have told his family that he is
clinically dead.

Hendrickson has said the Knowles family wanted the team to play
the Pauls Valley game, but he left the decision up to the players,
who didn't practice on Tuesday and Wednesday or watch films of
their opponent.

"They said, `We want to go out there and win this one for
Daniel.' I said, `No, we might go out there and play this one for
Daniel.'

"We'll play with class and respect and dignity," he said.
"But we're not going to put that kind of pressure on ourselves.
Winning and losing is immaterial."

Meanwhile, members of the Little Axe softball team were mourning
the death of their star centerfielder, Karissa Dawn Genzler.

Genzler, 17, died Saturday at her home. Authorities don't know
the cause of her death, but Ray Blakeney, director of operations
for the Medical Examiner's Office, said she had been ill but not
hospitalized recently. He said the death appeared to be natural
causes.

She led the Little Axe softball team with a .450 batting average
in her junior year in fast-pitch. She was the leadoff hitter and
was named all-conference three times.

"Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to the family," said
Principal Frank Soloman. "I've been here 12 years, and she's the
first athlete we've lost."

Soloman said team practices had been called off for the week.
Students wanting to attend her funeral Thursday will be allowed out
of class, he said.

In Wynnewood, there is hope that students there won't be
attending Knowles' funeral any time soon.

"We're still praying for a miracle," Hendrickson said.

"There is a higher authority than the doctors."