Catching up with Juan

It sickened the Husky fan base back in April, when it was reported that sixth-year C Juan Garcia went down in the second-to-last scrimmage of spring practice with a Lisfranc injury — a complex mid-foot sprain — in his left foot. Now, more than a month after the injury, he's on the mend and he updated Dawgman.com about what he's been up to and what may lie ahead.

Garcia met with doctors a week ago today and he got a positive report, but he noted there is a long way to go still.

"My foot is coming along and it looks a lot better than the first time they looked at it," Garcia told Dawgman.com recently. "It's not completely healed or anything. They said the bones are aligned and there's a little separation, but they aren't as separated as before. They said it's coming along and it's still a little too early to tell, but it's better than it was earlier."

After he was diagnosed with the injury, the doctors gave Garcia the option of either getting surgery and missing his final season with the Huskies or opting to let it heal naturally giving him a chance to return about mid-season.

Garcia chose the latter.

"Right now, I guess it's just up to me, but I remember at the spring game they were telling me the way to go is surgery, for the long term and for the rest of my life," Garcia recalled. "They said that it would be better for me to get the surgery and get it out of the way and start rehabbing it that way, but I just didn't want to go that route and I just told them it was up to me and that I believe in God and I'm going to try and let it heal and if it doesn't heal then it's my choice and I'll be better off.

"I don't want to second-guess myself or regret it later on. I think, as far as my decision is concerned, it's on me so I chose to go the healing route. If I don't ever get to play another down I can say it was on me and it was my choice not to get the surgery."

If he never plays another down? That isn't what Husky fans want to hear, but Garcia said not to worry, he'll be out there at least one more time.

"If it's not healing, I won't even get the surgery," Garcia said. "I'll just pick the game where my leg is the strongest and I'll just tear the crap out of my leg just so I can wear that uniform one more time.

"They said when I get the surgery, things will be back to normal and I really want to run out of that tunnel one more time and put that uniform on and be with my teammates one more time. If that's what I have to do, that's what I have to do, but I'm not thinking about that right now."

Four weeks from now, Garcia will go in to visit with the doctors again to get another progress report, but in the meantime, he's been a mainstay in the training room. A place he was all too familiar with in his first three years on campus and a place he hopes he never sees again.

"Rehab is boring and lame," Garcia said with a hint of a chuckle. "I'm there for three-and-a-half hours. What happens is they put me on some light-machine therapy and then all of these machines that promote healing.

"What they're doing is just getting more blood circulating and get the tissues and cells working and all this terminology that I have no idea what's going on, but I keep doing it and I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that it works."

What does one do for three hours while letting machines do their job?

"Usually I just read the newspaper or a magazine or I bring a book from class and I read it," Garcia said. "It's funny because if I walk in there around one I look at the clock and I say to myself ‘yep, I'm not getting out of here until 4:30' so it's a long day.

"Jake (Locker) comes in and gives me words of encouragement, but most of the guys come in and say ‘you're still here man?' and I'm like ‘yep, I'm not leaving until four'."

When players go through injuries and rehab, they usually go one of two ways – they either balloon up or they shrink down because they are unable to keep up with their weight-training. Garcia admits he isn't in the best cardio shape at the moment, but he said he hasn't ballooned up either.

"I'm actually at 317 right now, which is where I wanted to be right now, and I eat, but I try not to eat as much because I don't want to balloon and then get scrawny," Garcia noted. "My upper body is strong, but it's my lower body that needs to come along. If this whole thing works out my main thing is to not go into the season and have people say that I'm on the field because I'm healthy. I won't even go out there if I don't feel confident in my lower-body where I can help the team out I still won't play. I won't go out there until I'm mentally ready.

"Right now I can't do any weight-bearing work on my lower-body so I just do a lot of upper-body and abs stuff to keep my upper-body strong. I can actually get on the bike as long as I don't put too much weight on my leg. I just put my heel on the pedal and I stay on that for a while. It doesn't do as much as I wish it could, but it's all about playing the waiting game for me."

As far as his academic progress is concerned, Garcia only has one class left and he'll be taking that this fall.

"I'm saving a class so I can take it in the fall and I'm getting my minor in Diversity and then after the season I'll have my degree and then it'll be on to the real world," Garcia said. "If you'd have told me I'd be here right now at this time, when I was back in high school, I would never have thought I would have two degrees, that's for sure.

"I knew I had the hunger and drive, but the man I've grown up to be was not what I expected the University of Washington to do for me. It's a little funny, because when you come in, and everybody's got their own life story, but the person I came in as and the one I am now is totally different than I thought I'd be. If I saw me walking in the door back then now I'd say ‘that young Juan Garcia, he's something else'."

Yes he is something else.

He's a true Husky and he's an example of how sports can change the fortunes of a young man who came from the wrong side of the tracks, to exceed everything everyone told him he could be, while becoming one of the key components to the rebuilding of the Washington mystique and an example for youngsters on how hard work and perseverance pays off.


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