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September 29, 1998

By Chad Conine

The tunnel leading from the Tech locker room to the playing field is adorned with reminders of whats at stake. This season the banners and names of former Raider All-Americans may go unnoticed because the teams inspiration honorary co-captain Stoney Garland sits near the locker room exit with his head held high. I think everybody enjoys seeing him out there, sophomore defensive tackle Kris Kocurek said. I know it helps me. He is the inspirational leader to us. Try and pick out the most emotional moment of 1997 for the Red Raider football team, but forget about wins or losses, and scratch all of the thrilling or heartbreaking individual plays. The importance of those things was put into perspective at the football programs annual banquet. Capping a video of the seasons highlights was a shot of Stoney Garland making a tackle and celebrating. Less than two weeks before the banquet, Garlands life was threatened when he and three other passengers of a 1992 Chevrolet pickup crashed into the back of a Ford Mustang. Garland sustained multiple injuries to his head and neck and was taken to University Medical Center where he remained in critical condition for several days and under intensive care for more than two weeks. During that time, it was the prayers and support of Garlands family, friends, teammates and coaches that pulled him through as much as the expertise of his physicians. Texas Tech offensive coordinator Rick Dykes was among those who crowded the hospitals waiting room for what Dykes described as a vigil. The accident took place on Thanksgiving, so the team was away for the holiday, Dykes said. But it was amazing to see family members, coaches and players pour into that waiting room. We had a room full of people 24 hours a day. Though the doctors were not sure at times if Garland would pull through, Stoneys physical prowess proved to be instrumental in his going far beyond medical experts expectations. While Garland was fighting the odds, his teammates were out in the community helping to raise funds. On one Saturday, Tech football players went to the South Plains Mall and other area shopping centers. Local radio stations helped out by broadcasting that the team was taking donations. Contributors came from all over Lubbock and surrounding communities as $15,000 was raised for the Garland fund in a mere four hours. The Texas Tech players and coaches continued to show support for Garland as he traveled to Dallas for rehabilitation at Baylor University Hospital. On six consecutive Saturdays in January and February, former defensive line coach Dean Slayton and a van load of Red Raider football players left Lubbock at 7 a.m. and drove to Dallas to visit Stoney and the childrens wing of the hospital. The group usually returned to Lubbock around 11 p.m. One of the guys said that it sounded like a long day when I told him about our schedule, said Slayton, Garlands position coach last fall. The thing you have to remember is that every day is a long day for that ole boy were going to see. It was the highlight of the week for him when we went and you could see the enjoyment in his face. Dykes, along with former Tech players Ron Reeves and Tommy Duniven, and friends of the program Jackie Cox, David Miller and Susan Palmer, formed a committee to build a house for Garland. Dykes said that most of the costs, including the land, materials and labor, were funded through donations in an effort to provide a home that would assist in Garlands rehabilitation. I think thats what being on a team is all about, Dykes said. We are always going to take care of our teammates. It showed a lot, what those guys did in raising the money and getting that house built. It showed that our team is going to stick together. Another moving occasion for Garland and the Red Raider football team came in early April at the Red-Black game. At halftime, Garland was named as an honorary captain for the 1998 season and head coach Spike Dykes led the Jones Stadium crowd in a round of applause. Garland said that after several months of rehabilitation, the honor of being named a team captain motivated him to press on to be able to rejoin his teammates.

Contributions to the Garland fund can still be made at Plains State Bank (Stoney Garland Fund, Plains State Bank, PO Box 549, Plains, TX 79355), the First Baptist Church of Plains (First Baptist Church, Stoney Garland Fund, Attn.: W.L. McCravey, PO Box 299, Plains, TX 79355) and through the Texas Tech Department of Athletics, PO Box 43021, Lubbock, TX 79409 in care of Coach Rick Dykes.




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