Mr. Timothy Allen, Longmeadow High School Girl’s Basketball head coach and principal of Birchland Park Middle School in East Longmeadow, suffered a massive heart attack on July 24, 2021. Well-known as a bright and cheerful man, Mr. Allen inspires positive attitudes and changes for the better. He is married to Ms. Nikcole Allen, the principal of Glenbrook Middle School.
According to Coach Allen, he was at his family beach house in Cape Cod when he started to feel chest pain. His youngest daughter went to get the neighbor for support. On the way to the hospital, Coach Allen went into full cardiac arrest. His neighbor knew how to perform CPR and saved his life.
At Falmouth Hospital, the doctors decided that he needed to be transferred to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis. There, it was discovered that one of his main arteries was blocked. From there, a stent, a small mesh tube,was inserted in that artery to improve blood flow. Allen was then sent by helicopter to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. There, he was treated for forty days. For the first twenty, Mr. Allen was completely unconscious. For the proceeding ten, Coach Allen struggled to understand what was going on. By day thirty one, he started to feel like himself again.
But how did this happen? Coach Allen was and still is an active and energetic person. He grew up in Springfield where he attended local schools until he transferred to Longmeadow High School on school choice. He went on to play basketball for four years at Wheaton College.
He had no warning signs of the heart attack, as his heart was healthy. What caused his heart attack was a protein called Lipoprotein (a), a hereditary protein. It is something that is not usually tested for, so Coach Allen did not realize he was vulnerable to this.. His heart attack was considered a “widowmaker,” one that only about 12% of people survive.
Coach Alllen is still healing and is currently not working as a principal, but plans to be back in school soon. Of course, his diet is different now, as he eats heart-healthier foods. In doing so, Coach Allen limits saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. He goes to cardiac rehab twice a week at Baystate Hospital in Springfield, where he performs physical activity and is put on a heart monitor. He believes exercise is part of the healing process and that’s “the only thing doctors can not provide medicine for.”
Having had such a positive presence in people’s lives, Coach Allen was greatly supported by the community. The “Timmy Strong” campaign was started. Mr. Nick Fournier, one of Coach Allen’s best friends, was the main catalyst for this movement. Fundraising included selling T-shirts saying “#TIMMYSTRONG”.
Coach Allen was blown away by how people reacted to his condition. He was humbled and moved. Seeing “Timmy Strong” and people’s support made him feel “blessed, lucky, and loved.” The foundation made a big difference in his recovery process. He says that he experienced a miracle and is so thankful for his wife, children, and the community for coming together to help him through the difficult times.
After returning to work at Birchland Park, Mr. Allen plans to return to coach the Longmeadow High School Girls Basketball Varsity team. He is hoping to have a few more good weeks and if all goes as well, he will be preparing for the basketball season, which will start the week after Thanksgiving.