“I went to a knee and just tried to catch my breath and I stood back up and then everything went black,” said Brik Chesley, a senior wrestling standout at Spanish Springs.
Chesley, who also plays football and runs track, was playing around with a buddy in the gym during early-morning Zero Period at SSHS. His buddy hit him in the chest. The result was the extremely rare phenomenon called Commotio Coridis.
His heart was hit at the exact moment it was fully inflated and the thump caused it to stop beating.
Now former football coach at Spanish Springs, Scott Hare, more alert than most would be in the situation, started CPR immediately.
Chesley said after his heart stopped beating for 30 seconds, his chance of survival dropped from an already dismal 10 percent, to two percent. He is one of only five reported cases ever to survive the event without the aid of defibrillators.
“And then I saw a white light. And then I saw Coach Hare’s face in front of me saying don’t move. Don’t move,” Chesley said. “I had no clue what happened.
“My entire football team, I remember coming to and seeing everyone just pale white, just standing there.”
Chesley said the 98 percent chance of his death did not sink in for a couple days until he was reading through the paperwork but he has since changed the way he sees things.
“It changed my outlook on life a little bit, more just wanting to do more than I possibly can,” Chesley said.
Now, he is determined to win a state wrestling title in the 195-pound weight class.
Last year, he fell just short of his goal, falling in the state title match. Wrestling since he was in third grade, the defeat caused him to change the way he goes about his business on the mat.
“Last year, when I made it to the state final, the reason I lost the state final match was because I wasn’t as aggressive as I should have been at the top. If I was more aggressive at neutral position, I would have taken him down in those last seconds I needed to and I would have won that match,” Chesley said. “So really, when I came into this year I just thought to myself I really needed to change up my style to where I’m able to push the pace more and put myself in opportunities to score.”
His more aggressive wrestling style has resulted in a 34-5 record, before last night’s dual against Reno, and two separate tournament titles.
“Brik is a very, very physical force,” Spanish Springs wrestling coach Joe Imelli said. “Obviously he is well put together. Other coaches say ‘wow, that’s unbelievable. That’s a college-type body.’ He is really long to it and very, very strong and physical. He is in the mold of that college-type wrestler.”
California State–Bakersfield has expressed interest in Chesley among numerous other junior colleges. Imelli believes his 195 pounder is going to have his options where to take his talents but for Chesley, as long as he is playing a sport at the college level, he’s happy.
Chesley, who was a second-team defensive end for the Cougars' football team this fall, is also considering the option of playing football on Saturdays. Whether he is wearing a singlet or shoulder pads, collegiate athletics will lay the track for Chesley to achieve is biggest goal.
“It would be cool to play sports (in college) but my goal in life is to be a history
teacher,” he said. “It’s just one of the subjects I’ve truly liked since I was a little kid.
When people go home and watch TV, I turn on the History Channel.”
His superstitions are as constant as his routine watching history documentaries. An admittedly “very superstitious” person, it would almost be easier listing the things he
does not do before matches.
For every finals match, he tapes his shoes with pink tape. He has certain underwear he wears for finals. He wears a particular outfit whenever he is preparing for a placing match. He changes his T-shirt multiple times during warm-ups.
Chesley said the pink before finals matches started last year when he bought a pair of pink socks and wore them for a finals match at a tournament in Windsor, Calif. – he won and the pink stayed.
He gets a second chance to wear pink in a state title match. He gets a second chance at life.