This 10-part series highlights the 2021 McGowan Courage Award nominees. Brought to you by the Mansfield Rotary Club.
Riley Gossom was driving home from school last October when a car came over a hill and struck him head-on. The other driver was attempting to pass a truck and trailer on a double yellow line.
Gossom was cut from his car, and medical personnel at the scene worried he might lose a leg. He was transported to OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital for major surgery, where the medical team successfully saved his leg.
“I didn't regain consciousness until after surgery,” Gossom said. “I can specifically remember waking up and having my parents in the hospital room. The surgeon came in, and the first thing I can remember asking is how long I'm out for basketball.”
Going into his senior season for basketball, Gossom only needed 48 points to reach 1000 points and just a little over 300 points to become the school’s all-time leading scorer.
However, given the severity of his leg injury, it seemed unlikely Gossom would be able to play sports again anytime soon. A rod had been placed in his tibia, from his knee to his ankle.
For the next 11 days, Gossom completed his school work on a computer from the hospital. When he was released, he began intense rehabilitation to facilitate the healing process.
By February, Gossom was healed enough to be able to dress and start with his team for basketball on senior night. He finished out the season, slowly progressing to be more active on the team as time went on.
“Riley was enrolled in [college credit plus classes] full-time at the time of his accident. He not only finished his courses from the hospital and home but enrolled full-time again for the spring semester,” said Kelly Mongold, school counselor at Lucas High School.
“He finished out the season and was able to slowly contribute as we progressed through the tournament and played a fairly significant role in our regional semifinal game,” she continued.
The resilience, hard work and positivity Gossom exhibited during this challenging experience led to his selection as Lucas High School’s 2021 recipient of the McGowan Courage Award.
“When adversity hits or something happens that you're not expecting, it's not feeling bad for yourself or wondering why this happened or why me. It's just, you know, getting through it and making the most out of the situation,” Gossom said.
“Don't let negative experiences and adversity define who you are. Just wake up every day and take it day by day, and make the most out of your situation because you're not guaranteed tomorrow,” he continued.
In the fall, Gossom will attend Heidelberg University and play for their basketball team. He plans to major in education and one day become a high school teacher and basketball coach.
The 2021 McGowan Courage Awards are supported by these sponsors:
Park National Bank
North Central State College
Mansfield Art Center