RICHFIELD, Minn. — A high school hockey player in the Twin Cities is recovering from a serious brain injury suffered over the weekend.
Academy of Holy Angels school officials confirmed with WCCO on Monday that the injured player is senior captain Mason Garcia, who is also the captain of the baseball team. He was injured during a hockey scrimmage on Saturday.
According to a GoFundMe page set up for Garcia, he suffered a traumatic brain injury after taking a hit against the boards. He was then taken by ambulance to the intensive care unit at Regions Hospital.
A subsequent MRI and other scans are "clear," the GoFundMe said, but movement in his hands and lower body was still limited as of Sunday night.
A school representative told WCCO that the injury was a "shockwave of reality," but said Garcia is sitting up with movement starting to come back to his extremities.
"Academy of Holy Angels extends our deepest prayers for a full recovery and asks for continued support for Mason and his family," the school said on its website.
Garcia's teammates said even in despair, their captain is showing them what it means to be a leader.
He is known by his teammates as "Dad" because they say he showed up with a beard freshman year.
"I go back to playing squirt games against him when he was Kennedy and I was Jefferson. It was like a little rivalry between us, but it was like secretly a friendship that was just waiting to be born," said co-captain Henry Lechner.
He went to see his best friend in the hospital this weekend.
"We were watching a little bit of 'SpongeBob' in the hospital room, and he kind of goes, 'This TV sucks because the volume is on the remote,' and I just kind of laughed at that, and it was one of those things where I was like this guy's still got his sense of humor down and he still really believes in having a good time while in the worst scenario that he can be in," Lechner said.
He says Garcia is able to talk, and he has feeling again in his arms and legs. Coach Patrick Griswold says Garcia is already making promises about coming back before the end of the year.
"He said to me in the hospital on Sunday morning, he's like, 'Coach, I'm not going to be able to get going right away,' but he goes, 'I'll be ready by March 2,' and that's the state tournament. And I said, 'Well, it's actually March 9.' He goes, 'Good, I've got seven more days,'" Griswold said.
That would certainly be a bonus, if not a miracle, but Garcia's got the whole community rooting for him.
"I think it's going to motivate our whole team to play for him, to understand that everything in life is given and that can be taken away really quickly, and to be grateful for everything that you have," Griswold said.
The Stars' season begins Friday night in Bloomington. There is no timetable for how long Garcia will remain in the hospital.
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