PHOENIX — It was a Thursday evening at Legacy Sports Complex in Mesa. 12-year-old Pyper Midkiff was practicing soccer with her Arizona Arsenal Club team.
Without warning Pyper collapsed just 20 minutes into the practice.
“She is a scrappy little player. My wife calls her ‘Spicy Pypy.’ She hasn’t seen a challenge, a tackle, a ball in the air she’s not excited about going and winning,” said her father, Matt Midkiff.
It’s that competitive fire Pyper will need as she fights to recover.
“She’s going to fight, and we just want her back,” said an emotional Midkiff.
Piper's dad said the medical emergency came out of nowhere.
“There was no collision. No ball hit her in the chest. No trauma to her head. It was kind of a ticking bomb that went off in her heart that went off at that moment,” said Midkiff.
Midkiff was coaching at another field in the sports complex when he got the call that Pyper had collapsed.
He ran to the field to find her teammates crying as parents and coaches worked to help Pyper.
“She was on the ground. Her face was turning blue. One of her teammate’s mom was already on the phone with EMS and initiated CPR,” said Midkiff.
Pyper was being transported to an area hospital when her heart stopped. Paramedics were able to get it restarted.
She was then flown to Phoenix Children’s Hospital where she’s being cared for.
“She was able to wake up and recognize people. Nod her face. Move her limbs. Squeeze hands,” said Midkiff.
It's a glimmer of hope but she’s still heavily sedated and intubated with a long road to recovery.
Support from the local soccer community is helping the family through this ordeal.
Friends have started up a GoFundMe account for Pyper.
Players from other teams are wearing wristbands with Pyper’s initials and her jersey number in her honor. Phoenix Rising FC showed support by posing with a jersey with Pyper’s name on it before Saturday’s game.
“It’s really lifted my wife, myself and my kids up that so many people care about Pyper,” said Midkiff.
Pyper still has to undergo an MRI and other tests to find out what happened and what damage may have resulted from the cardiac arrest.
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