Mason Garcia was watching his team practice from the stands Wednesday night, after spending 11 days in the hospital. The team captain is still a little sore and can only walk very slowly, but he says he’s counting his blessings that it wasn’t a lot worse.
"Even if this is as much as I could do for the rest of my life… I am able to recognize that I can be very grateful for that," said Garcia.
Garcia suffered a traumatic brain injury after taking a hit into the boards, and for several hours afterward he couldn’t talk or feel his limbs. He said movement started to come back slowly, and he’s now walking unassisted.
"For about seven hours I talked to my family and doctors just through blinking," he said.
Garcia received an outpouring of support from the hockey community and beyond, following the injury. An online fundraiser has raised more than $50,000 as of Wednesday.
"When I’m sitting there in physical therapy and it's really hard, remembering that every single person around me is pushing and praying for me – it helps a lot," he said.
While Garcia will not be able to participate in any games his senior year - with the doctors warning that it is too dangerous – he will remain a team captain and participate from the bench.
"Nothing changes outside of him playing," said coach Patrick Griswold. "He’s still going to be a locker room leader, he’s still going to help out pre-game, post-game… he’s still one of our captains."