Archived Story

Sports injury not an ordinary thing

Published 10:51am Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On Friday afternoon, I had to take a step back from my life and appreciate just how amazing our local athletes are.

The story of Zach Gabbard was another blow in the microcosm of sports that I find myself affiliated with, either as a writer or as a coach.

Zach was an integral part of the state ranked Perham boys’ basketball team and constant name in our articles on the team this season.

My thoughts and prayers have been with him and his family as they go through this difficult period in their lives.

Something like this is never supposed to happen to a healthy, young individual.

If you were to tell me, growing up, that something of this magnitude could happen to anyone of my teammates, I would dismiss it as something out of the ordinary. But life is not ordinary.

I walked around the rest of the evening in disbelief that something like that had happened in our neck of the woods.

Broken bones, sprains, cuts and bruises are all in the landscape of sporting injuries but not what this young man has had to face.

The weekend before, ESPN did a story on former NFL player Dennis Byrd. Byrd was attempting to sack the quarterback, but missed and went head first into teammate Scott Mersereau’s chest.

The resulting injury caused a break in the C-5 vertebrae and partial paralysis. Byrd was able to make a recovery that allowed him to walk 10 months later as an honorary captain for the Jets.

Byrd delivered a speech before the Jets victory over the Patriots that weekend saying “A man has a body, a mind and a spirit.

“There are times in a man’s life when his body will tell him it can’t continue on.

“There are times in a man’s life when his mind will tell him that the task set for him is too hard to accomplish.

“Those two don’t matter. It’s a man’s will and his spirit, and in those moments and in those times that will tell him ‘You can do it,’ and it will make the mind and body follow along.”

This speech made me think of Zach and his road to recovery. With family, friends and well-wishers all following the progress of this young athlete, we look forward to his recovery and for his family to remain strong.

As last updated, Zach was down in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota receiving special medical care.

For updates and information on Zach’s recovery, you may look at

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