In the midst of preparing for the start of the 2017 season, the Navy football team has rallied around offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper, whose son will likely need a heart transplant.
Jarren Jasper, 14, went to the doctor for a routine physical in June so he could try out for the Broadneck High School football team. It was then doctors noticed something was wrong with his heart.
"Things kind of came out of nowhere," Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo told
Glenn Clark Radio
Aug. 22. "He went in for a procedure and the next thing you know the poor kid's fighting for his life. Now he's at the point now where he's on an LVAD machine. He's waiting on a transplant. So the kid's fighting hard for his life."
Jarren Jasper was diagnosed with Supraventricular Tachycardia -- a rapid heartbeat that develops when the normal electrical impulses of the heart are disrupted.
Ivin Jasper has taken a leave of absence from the team since learning of his son's condition. Jarren Jasper, the youngest of Ivin and Donna's Jasper's three children, has been in the hospital for several weeks. He's currently at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Niumatalolo referred to Ivin Jasper as family. The two played quarterback together at the University of Hawaii. Ivin Jasper is in his 18th year at the Naval Academy and his 10th as offensive coordinator. He has worked with Niumatalolo throughout his Navy career.
"When things like this happen you start to remember what really matters in life," Niumatalolo said. "And family and relationships -- that's way more important than anything. So our prayers continue to go out to him."
Ivin Jasper did return to Navy practice last week to work with the offense and junior quarterback Zach Abey. However, he continues to spend time with his son and family in D.C.
"It's obviously very hard -- very hard for Ivin. ... We're just trying to prepare and trying to support Ivin the best way that we can," Niumatalolo said. "And if he's here that's great; if he's not, he's not. Then we kind of press forward as a staff."
While the Midshipmen continue to support the Jasper family, they are still preparing for the start of the season, which begins Sept. 1 at Florida Atlantic.
Navy, which finished 9-5 overall last year, went 7-1 in the American Athletic Conference to win the Western Division title before losing, 34-10, to Temple in the conference championship game.
Despite the success in-conference, the Midshipmen snapped their 14-game winning streak against Army. The loss to Army and an upset loss to Air Force cost Navy the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.
This year, Navy will look to reclaim the trophy behind Abey, who spent the summer working with Ivin Jasper to master Navy's triple-option offense.
Abey, a Pasadena, Md., native who attended Archbishop Spalding, made his first career start late last season against Army. This year, he'll look to take over Navy's offense and perhaps reclaim the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.
"It's the same goals every year whether you win it or lose it," Niumatalolo said. "We're still trying to win our conference; we're still trying to win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. So every year you come back -- whether you win or lose -- and try and regain that. Every year is different. Every game is different. So we come back. All you can do from the previous season is learn from your mistakes and some of the things that happened."