Penn State Soccer

Penn State men’s soccer: Nittany Lion sophomore paralyzed in snowboarding accident

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Penn State men’s soccer player Brett Gravatt is recovering after a serious snowboarding accident, which has left him without the use of his lower body.

The accident occurred on Dec. 26 in his home state of Virginia when Gravatt, a sophomore defender, fractured a vertebrae in his spinal cord after a collision with a tree.

Immediately following the fall, Gravatt was airlifted to a hospital in Lynchburg, Va., and later that night was flown to University of Virginia hospital in Charlottesville. While there, he underwent emergency surgery to stabilize the fracture and also had two rods and eight screws put into his back.

On Jan. 6, Gravatt was flown to Shepherd Rehabilitation Center in Atlanta, where he is currently performing rehab and beginning his road to recovery. Since the injury, coaches, teammates, friends and family have visited Gravatt.

“Accidents can happen to any of us and I have told our players, what if it was you? What would you want your teammates to do,” Penn State coach Bob Warming said in a university release. “‘One Team’ is a motto of our athletic department and as I have told people before, the ‘One Team’ theme really means that we are all in this life together, to help each other, to be there when others need us, to support each other, to work together to make things better. It is our challenge and call to action to do this on a daily basis. In this instance, how can we help make things better for Brett?”

The injury to Gravatt, who is from Dunn Loring in northern Virginia, consists of a break to his T6 thoracic vertebrae.

“Brett has been dealt a challenging situation and I am sure he will attack it with the same amazing competitive drive he demonstrated this past fall with our team,” Warming said. “Our job is to encourage, applaud and support the effort he is going to put forth.”

Gravatt transfered to Penn State from Akron following his freshman season in 2013. After after recovering from knee surgery over the summer, he made an impact for the Nittany Lions, playing in 11 matches last fall, starting three at the end of the season. He scored the game-winning goal — the first of his collegiate career — in the first round of the NCAA tournament in a 2-1 triumph against Hartwick. He helped Penn State record 10 shutouts during the season.

Gravatt’s family has set up the website, where those interested can receive updates on his condition and overall progress.