FREMONT – Not even a chainsaw and 12 stitches can stop Garrett Schneider from playing his last football game as a Little Giant.
Ross’ senior linebacker was working on his family’s farm Sunday morning, cutting up a tree that fell on the property. Schneider went to engage the chain brake safety guard, hitting it with the bottom of his palm though the top portion of his hand continued to move forward, into the moving chain.
“I actually didn’t feel anything when it happened, I was just like, ‘Wow, this is bleeding really bad. I think I better go to the hospital,’” Schneider said. “I called one of the guys I was working with and said, ‘I need you to take me to the hospital,’ then I called my dad. I told him I have to go to the hospital and he asked what happened. I said, ‘I got my hand in the chainsaw,’ ‘You got your hand in what?!’”
Schneider suffered multiple lacerations to his hand, three below his pinky and another across his palm and received 12 stitches to close the wounds. Since Schneider engaged the safety brake on the chainsaw and it was in process of shutting down when he cut his hand, Schneider is aware how lucky he is that his injuries are not more serious.
“I look at how fortunate I am,” he said. “You’ve got to pay attention to what you’re doing. I think about everything that I do on a day-to-day basis, you think, ‘Wow, there are so many things I can get seriously injured if I’m not careful.’ Running these humongous tractors, if you fall off it or step off and leave it in gear or something, you’re done for.
“This is an eye-opener that I have to pay close attention to every little thing that I do.”
Soon after the accident, Schneider’s thoughts turned to Friday’s football season finale, where Ross travels to face St. Francis, and he worried he’d miss the final game of his career. But he quickly dismissed any notion of not playing.
He plans to have a hard cast put on his hand and taping his fingers together. Injuring the hand further is unlikely, but if his fingers get pushed backward the accompanying pressure may pop the stitches in his hand.
“(Missing the game) crossed my mind, then I started looking at it and going to my mentality that, ‘I can always get it restricted after Friday’ so it doesn’t really worry me,” he said.
Not having Schneider on the field would be a major blow to the defense. Not only is Schneider one of the team’s most vocal and emotional leaders, he’s the team leader in tackles, with 60 total stops (23 solo, 74 assists), tied for the team-high 10 tackles of loss, two forced and recovered fumbles and one of the team’s five interceptions.
Having his season – and his career — nearly end a week early gave Schneider an early glimpse of what life will be like without football.
“I’m never going to be able to come in here and put pads on and play another football game,” he said. “This is the last Friday night lights I’m going to be under and the last time to come out and hear that marching band playing. I just love it. I eat that up. This being the last game I’ll every play as a high school football player, that’s it.”
While Schneider certainly has the ability to play somewhere at the next level, he is electing not to. He works on his family’s farm and a neighboring farm and after graduation he’s going to continue working, setting aside football.
“Other kids, they have to go to college and get a degree because they don’t have a job out the back door of their house,” he said. “I can go out the back door and work anytime I want.”
So while Schneider works on his farm – with a new appreciation for its risks and dangers and an attention to detail to avoid further injury – he said he’ll be able to look back on his days playing in Don Paul Stadium with fondness and pride.
“It was a damn good ride,” he said. “It’s been fun. A lot of fun.”