Jesus Lupian died doing the thing he loved most — playing soccer.
“It absolutely was his passion,” his former Glenbrook South varsity soccer coach, Paul Agombar, said. “It’s ironic that that’s how he went.”
The 19-year-old played soccer for Robert Morris University and was at practice Wednesday night when he collapsed on the University of Illinois in Chicago’s field, which Robert Morris had rented for the evening, authorities said.
Lupian, whom authorities said lived in Des Plaines, was taken to nearby University of Illinois Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m.
An autopsy could not determine the cause of death, and the case is pending further tests, which could take up to six weeks, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Lupian was about to start his second year at the school, which he was attending on a “leadership” scholarship, according to Mablene Kruger, provost for Robert Morris University.
He had just passed a physical exam to play sports at the school and had no history of health problems, she said.
Lupian’s dream was not to “go pro” or make it to stardom, Agombar said.
“He wanted to play college soccer, which he did,” Agombar said. “It was important to him to go to college. ... It was very important to him to get a college education.”
When Agombar first began coaching boys varsity soccer at Glenbrook South, Lupian was a junior at the school. Agombar put Lupian on varsity.
The first match Agombar coached, the game was scoreless with three minutes left to play. It was Lupian’s first varsity game too, and with pressure high, Buffalo Grove served the ball to the back post. Lupian kicked it and scored, and the team won.
After the game, Lupian reminded Agombar numerous times to get him a recorded copy of the game.
“I was always happy to get a win, but I wasn’t as happy as him,” Agombar said. “He loved soccer.”
Lupian moved and transferred to John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights. The last game of his high school soccer career was a playoff match against his former Glenbrook South team. John Hersey lost.
“After the game, he was sobbing,” Agombar said. “It wasn’t so much that he lost — it was that high school soccer was over. It was very emotional.”
Adam Morris, Lupian’s academic adviser, said Lupian was a quiet student, but had a close group of friends.
Lupian was studying accounting, a major he questioned at first, but had begun to embrace.
“I’m going to remember him as a student who was so eager to succeed,” Morris said through tears. “And I think he really taught me that no matter how busy you are and how much you have going on, there’s always time to stop in and smile and laugh and have a joke about things.”
Robert Morris University has made grief counselors available for students, particularly members of the soccer team, Kruger said.
“We are simply devastated by this,” Kruger said. “The institution is really grieving.”
Business professor Catherine Stark said she required Lupian and the rest of her students to create a personal code of ethics for a business ethics class she taught.
Lupian wrote: “Everything will happen on its own time and place,” and thanked his parents for teaching him respect, discipline and instilling in him a strong faith.