Battle continues for DuRocher

On track to finish out school this spring with a degree in Sociology, as well as a stint with the baseball team planned starting in January, Johnny DuRocher's calendar was already pretty full. A trip to the hospital on November 11th put a serious wrench in the works for the UW junior quarterback.

DuRocher suffered a concussion after getting decleated on a block during a game between Washington and Stanford. The UW trainers took DuRocher to the UW Medical Center, where an CAT scan saw more than a concussion.

"There's something about seeing your head and seeing that egg-shaped thing there," DuRocher said Tuesday. "Even I could tell that it didn't look right."

What 'it' was was tumor in DuRocher's cerebellum. It hadn't been diagnosed at that point, but the doctors told his parents that that there was something wrong. DuRocher didn't know for sure it was a tumor until that next Friday. "I kept it quiet until after the game (Apple Cup)," he said. "People started calling me up just wanting to know what was going on and how I was doing, so I gave them all the info I had."

Even the Washington football team, who had traveled to Pullman to play the Apple Cup that next day, didn't know what was happening. UW Head Coach Tyrone Willingham talked during the Friday night team meeting in general terms about Johnny's condition, because he didn't know all the details.

Meanwhile DuRocher was at home, pondering his next move. "It was a complete shock. I'm thinking about sending that guy (that hit me) a thank you note. First I was wondering if I could play. When they told me no, then I knew it was a big deal, so I just wanted to know where to go from here."

Right now, DuRocher has a doctor's appointment next week and the tumor will most likely come out on November 30th at Harborview Hospital. "I was disappointed, but glad they caught it," he said. "If I had to wait until December, January or February to have the surgery it would probably wear on me, but because it's happening so quickly I have a lot of doctors' appointments and just a lot going on to keep me busy."

After suffering some debilitating headaches immediately following the concussion, DuRocher didn't suffer from any of the other symptoms of concussion, which would have also included blurry vision and vomiting. "I've never had great eyesight to begin with," he said. "The doctor made it sound like he's done this surgery a lot, so that made me feel better. It's right on the edge of my skull. They are saying that I'll have better balance and eyesight."

It helps ease the pain a little bit, but the damage has already been done. DuRocher will trade in his football cleats for baseball spikes. "It's really disappointing, because I've been playing football for so long," he said. "It's different if you get to have a say as to when you quit playing."

DuRocher will try his hand at pitching, something he's never done before. "I haven't played baseball since my sophomore year (at Bethel)," he said. "I can throw in the low 90's, but I have no idea where it's going."

Is there a chance Husky fans might see DuRocher on a sideline next year, possibly as a student-coach? "I think if I want to, I know I can sit down with him (Willingham) and talk to him about it, but really I've been more focused on what's going on right now and the surgery."

"It all depends on what Johnny wants to do," Willingham said, adding that he's never been through a situation quite like this before. "We'll do anything in our power to make this difficult time as best as it can be for him."

Since the news first broke Monday morning, DuRocher has been flooded with well wishes. "People have been really supportive," he said. "I've gotten a lot of emails and phone calls, and it really does help."

"He's proved himself to be a competitor," Willingham added. Now it's just a matter of competiting in another venue. Competitors never lose their fight."

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