GRANITE BAY, Calif. — Granite Bay Rugby is a week away from their quest to repeat as national champions, but unlike last year's championship run, the team is playing with heavy hearts.
April 30 started off as any other normal rugby match, but then came the moment that would leave everyone shocked.
"One of our players had a stroke," said Chris Miller, director of Granite Bay Rugby. "Because it was so hot outside, we thought it was a heat stroke, but he actually had a full stroke."
Tyson Wasser suffered a stroke caused by a blood clot in his neck. Wasser spent four days in the ICU.
The team is rallying around Wasser and using that tragic situation as inspiration the rest of the season. The team and coaches all wear armbands which say #GBRTysonStrong.
"We're all playing for him. That's what it's all for this year. We want to win it for him," said senior Avion Ganse.
"The minute he stepped on this field, he was a brother. And you can tell from his smile and his competitiveness, he was such a great teammate, such a great friend, such a great person. He was always there for these kids, so now they're going to turn around and be there for him," said Miller.
The team currently has a GoFundMe page set up for Wasser.
They will head to Indiana next week with hopes of defending their national title.
"A lot of teams underestimate us. They just see a bunch of medium average guys," said senior Jared Quenga.
"We're physical. We're aggressive. And we bring it. We're not going to lose," said Junior Will Walker.
Wasser is now doing physical therapy at Kaiser’s Rehab Center in Vallejo.