High School Football Player Goes Viral for Helping Injured Opponent During Game

·2 min read
Photo of high school football player helping opponent goes viral
Photo of high school football player helping opponent goes viral

Wendy Hegtvedt Luft

An Iowa football player is going viral for his spontaneous act of sportsmanship on the field.

Earlier this month, senior and wide receiver Mario Hoefer was playing in Charles City High School's football game against New Hampton High School. During the fourth quarter, Hoefer stopped to help a New Hampton player, junior Carter Steinlage, who was lying on the field with a leg cramp, Today reported.

"I saw it all happen in the play," Hoefer told the outlet. "I'm running from the far end to get over there and I just see him go down. At first I was running to high five my teammates, but I saw him grab his calf."

Hoefer explained that he was cramping during the game himself, and knew he needed to help his opponent.

"I saw him go down and I didn't see anyone go over there to help him," Hoefer added, noting that the athletics trainers hadn't yet reached the player to assist. "I know how this feels, (and wanted) to help him get through this cramp until someone came over."

RELATED: High School Football Player, 14, Dies of Head Injury After Game: 'You Will Always Be Our Hero'

The moment was captured from the stands by a parent, Wendy Hegtvedt Luft, and posted on social media, quickly going viral. Jamie Lee Curtis even shared the photo on Facebook, writing, "I N F L U E N C E R We love to see it."

Hoefer told Today that he was "not expecting it to blow up."

"I just wanted to help him," Hoefer continued. "I would do it the same over and over again. We've played each other for years now. It was more like a brotherly thing to help him out."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Since the game, Hoefer and Steinlage have talked to each other on social media about the now-viral moment, according to the Globe Gazette. Charles City head football coach Bryan Bjorklund later spoke about Hoefer's character and sportsmanship.

"People see true sincerity and that's what he was doing there," Bjorklund told the local outlet. "He's just a good dude and that's what was coming out. That's one reason I think it's blowing up too."

"It looks natural and pure, and that's what it was," he added.