Manley's Blog

Matawan’s Chris Dhume passes away

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on January 23, 2011

Posted by Matt Manley

Chris Dhume, a senior soccer player at Matawan High School, died suddenly early Saturday morning of complications due to Bacterial Meningitis, according to the Monmouth County Department of Health. He only turned 17 years old in September.

“He was a quiet, down-to-earth kid who loved soccer and fishing,” Matawan coach Dave Deegan said. “I’m still trying to wrap my head around how this happened. It’s just terrible.”

According to Deegan, Dhume began feeling sick on Wednesday and missed school on Thursday, when he began vomiting and showing symptoms of a stomach flu. On Friday, his condition worsened and he was taken to Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel. After being diagnosed there, he was rushed by ambulance to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune.

“His blood pressure dropped really low and they were giving him all kinds of medication to get it back up,” Deegan said. “It got to the point where they needed to sedate him and the scariest point – or at least the part when we knew it was bad – was that they told his parents that he might start hitting his face when he comes out of it, and when they tried to bring him out of it, he didn’t respond.”

Dhume’s blood pressure began to rise on Friday night, and Deegan left the hospital at approximately 11 p.m. With the positive turn as the last piece of information that he received. At 2:22 a.m., he received a text from Dhume’s mother, Val, that Chris had passed away at 2:11.

Soccer Accomplishments

Dhume recently completed his varsity soccer career by scoring 13 goals and becoming the program’s all-time and single-season leading scorer. Despite his team struggling to a 4-15-0 record, Dhume was a standout player in the Shore Conference thanks to his scoring prowess. He was a coaches all-division selection in the Shore Conference Class A Central and an All-Shore Media All-Class A Central Second Team member as a midfielder.

“He was a great player on a bad team,” Deegan said. “He got overlooked because we weren’t a very good team, but he was a really good player and a great teammate.”

Deegan said that Dhume was receiving interest from a number of four-year college soccer programs and this past Tuesday, had a conversation with his coach about his interest in playing at Brookdale College.

“He came to me on Tuesday and told me he wanted to play at Brookdale,” Deegan said. “I know (Brookdale) coach (Mike) Costa from when I coached at Jackson and he was the head coach and I was planning on giving him a call this Saturday to tell him he’s got a stud on the way.”

Honoring Dhume

A viewing will be held Tuesday and Dhume’s funeral will be held on Wednesday. According to Deegan, Matawan High School will be open from noon to 3 p.m. for grief counseling and there will be various memorial services over the course of the next week. There is also a Facebook page in his memory, which can be found by going to facebook.com and searching “RIP #21 Chris Dhume”.

“It would take all night to name all the memorials that are going on for him,” Deegan said. “His mother even told me that she knew he was a great kid, but even she couldn’t believe the outpouring of love for Chris that they saw today. That’s the one good thing about this whole tragedy is the way the community has come out in support of the family.”

Dhume’s Legacy

Dhume is survived by mother Val, father Chris, Sr., older sisters Nicole and Danielle, and younger brother Bronson.

Bronson is in seventh grade and plays soccer as his older brother did. Deegan said he plans to save Dhume’s jersey No. 21 for Bronson and will not issue the number next year when Bronson is in eighth grade. He also said that the number will be retired once Bronson graduates or if he chooses another number.

“I don’t know how long we can keep the same jerseys, but I’m going to hold onto these as long as I can,” Deegan said. “If Bronson wants to wear his brothers number, I’d love to see him wear it for his whole varsity career and then retire it. Who knows? Maybe he breaks his brothers record. That would be a fitting tribute.”

Other Tragedy

Dhume’s death is not the first noteworthy tragedy to hit the N.J. high school soccer community this school year. Nick Gazzara, an All-South Jersey selection by the Star Ledger, died in a car accident on Dec. 16 in Vineland. Gazzara scored 42 goals to lead all of South Jersey.

The Shore Conference also suffered a loss in December of 2009 when Toms River North coach Dave Mitchell died of cancer on Dec. 16, exactly one year before Gazzara’s death. Mitchell had just guided the Mariners to an NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV championship.

Condolences

As you can imagine, I was shocked and saddened when I read the email about Chris late Saturday night. One of the great things about this job is experiencing the energy of high school kids, which really comes out at sporting events. No time is more exciting than senior year when you can soak up the final weeks of high school life before moving on to a new part of life. That Chris’s time got cut short at that stage is tragic and unfair.

Unlike with coach Mitchell last winter, I didn’t have any interaction with Chris of which to speak. I always wish I could get to more games and talk to more kids and coaches, but something like this puts a different light on things. There are plenty of players who come and go that I never have the pleasure of meeting, and it’s unfortunate that Chris’s story is being told under these circumstances. He was worthy of accolades to begin with and certainly deserved any accolades that came with his success.

My deepest sympathies go out to Chris’s parents, his two sisters, his brother Bronson and the rest of his family and friends. Coach Deegan indicated that the family would prefer donations to local soccer organizations and things of that nature in lieu of flowers.

Note: I originally wrote that the cause of death was Viral Meningitis when it was, in fact, Bacterial Meningitis. I apologize for the mistake.

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