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Community rallies for injured coaches

Men's Basketball

Community rallies for injured coaches

Locals in Coeur d’Alene and Spokane have gone to surprising lengths to support the victims of an accident involving three assistant coaches from North Idaho college’s basketball program. Head basketball coach Corey Symons related the whole story, as he was present for the event.

Coach Symons and his assistant coaches, Meer Shamsud-din, Chris Kemp and George Swanson were on their way to Portland for a scouting trip, early in the morning on Sept. 22 when a deer jumped out in front of them on the highway. The coaches hit the deer and the rental car was totaled, but no one injured. Shortly afterward, a tow truck came and parked behind the wrecked rental car.

According to Symons, while the coaches and tow-truck driver were discussing matters in the nearby ditch, a driver came speeding up towards them. He didn’t slow down, swerved to miss the tow truck, and careened straight through the group.

One of the coaches, Shamsud-din, was clipped and sustained minor injuries to his leg and foot. He is currently in a leg brace, but will be back coaching soon. Kemp, who was hit more severely, was air-lifted to the hospital where he remained in ICU for four days, and then released. He had multiple breaks but suffered no head trauma, and the doctors are confident he will recover well. George Swanson, however, took the majority of force from the car.

“The car literally knocked him right of his shoes, Symons said.

“He was standing shoulder to shoulder with me, and it hit him, and it literally left his shoes, tied, sitting there on the ground.”

Despite being thrown by the impact from the car, he avoided any internal organ or head injuries. He sustained many breaks, but none to his spine or neck.

“He’s pretty beat up,” Symons said.

It has been over a week, and Swanson still remains in the ICU of Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. Due to lung bruising, he is also on breathing ventilators.

Both the Coeur d’ Alene and NIC communities are big in their support for the coaches and their families. On Friday night, the NIC volleyball team donated all proceeds of the game to a fund to assist in paying for the coaches’ medical bills.

Likewise, the local Dutch Bros. coffee shops donated a dollar for every drink sold for a period of time, as evidenced by the #dutchlove seen on cars all over town.

And STCU, the Spokane teacher’s credit union has also set up a financial account which gives anyone who wants to donate, the opportunity to do so. All proceeds are donated to help cover any costs for the injured and their families. This financial account is labeled NICbasketball, and can be found on the STCU website.

“We really just want to say thanks to everybody and the community for being such a huge support,” Symons said. “This community is truly amazing.”

NIC president Rick MaClennan said, “North Idaho College and the entire athletics department are deeply saddened by this tragic accident. The Cardinal community of students, employees and athletes are sending our thoughts to the assistant coaches who were injured in this accident, and their families, as they begin the difficult road ahead to recovery. We will do anything we can to support them along the way.”

In the huddle, back on the basketball court, the basketball players and Symons will be showing their support for coach George Swanson and his recovery by changing their usual chant after a huddle. So if you make it to a game and hear a roaring “1-2- 3- G-strong!”, you’ll know why.


Gabriel Theander is a fearless, thrill seeking reporter for the Sentinel. There is nothing he won't do to get the story. After long days of work and studying, he enjoys piping hot coffee and rock climbing.

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