BEECHER CITY —
Of all of the awards displayed in his bedroom, Brady Barnes knows his most valuable player plaque from Saturday’s Central Illinois All-Star Game was the most improbable.
Three months ago, only a few minutes into an evening basketball practice with his Beecher City teammates, Barnes collapsed and woke up in a hospital room.
An autonomic dysfunction caused the senior’s heart to fail when his heart rate increased higher than 170 beats per minute. A target heart rate of about 100 to 170 beats per minute, while exercising, is normal for an 18-year-old, according to WebMD, but too much for Barnes.
His teammates told Barnes that he said he wasn’t feeling good and that he asked them to jump ahead of him in a layup line.
“They said I was completely white,” Barnes said. “I was cold. I was shivering. My feet felt like ice. Coach (Jason Eirhart) ran over faster than they’ve ever seen him.”
In the hospital, Barnes was put through a series of tests. He passed out during during the stress test.
Barnes said the doctors told him he had to sit out from playing basketball for at least a month because his heart needed to heal, grow, to the point that it could handle his physical exercise.
A high-motored basketball player, Barnes’ energy didn’t fade as he waited for a follow up appointment that ended up getting canceled.
“I called the hospital every single day,” Barnes said. “They scheduled it a month later (after canceling it) and they ended up making it two weeks sooner.”
The doctor told him to keep his blood pressure up by eating a lot of salt, so he did, and a month later he was ready to get back on a basketball court.
He got an opportunity on Feb. 18 to return to the Eagles in a game against Windsor. He scored 27 points, relieving a lot of pregame nerves.
“I was pretty nervous,” Barnes said. “(I thought) if I pass out here, I’m going to look like an idiot. This would be a bad time for it to come back.”
Two nights later, he dropped 26 points on his former school, Cowden-Herrick, fittingly scoring many points in transition with speed. He’d lead his team past St. Elmo/Brownstown in the first round of the Nokomis Regional before falling in the semis to Altamont.
Barnes averaged 16.8 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Eagles this season, despite being out of action for more than a month and missing 12 games. He scored 10 points in the all-star game.
He’s woken up every morning since Saturday and looked at the most valuable player plaque, knowing it was something special.
“Out of everyone that could’ve gotten (the award), I do from having this heart problem and coming back,” Barnes said. “The odds are so small of all this happening.”
Following the basketball season, Barnes opted to not go back out for the Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City track team, of which he was a member of in 2013, even though he was cleared to handle the running and physical exertion.
Barnes will be entering Quincy University’s nursing program as a freshman next year. He’s thinking about trying out for a walk-on spot on the school’s basketball team.
The autonomic dysfunction is no longer an issue.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.