Pomona senior Marcus Geypens is playing in the state’s semi-finals just 17 months after a near-fatal accident that left him intubated with internal injuries.
ARVADA, Colorado – 28 teams in Colorado are privileged to spend Thanksgiving week practicing to secure a spot in the state championship next week. The result may feel like life or death to some high school athletes, but a Pomona senior knows that it just isn’t.
“I honestly don’t remember that day. I don’t remember anything about three days after that day,” said Marcus Geypens.
However, his head coach Jay Madden remembers the day in question.
“I was the second person there; another friend of ours came first. Seeing his parents run down the street to see him was the hardest part,” Madden said.
His father Jon Geypens said he did not know the extent of the injuries when he received the first call, but as soon as he saw the scene of the accident he immediately knew the severity.
“When we came around the corner and saw everyone seeing fire trucks and ambulances, it definitely put it in gear,” he said.
Pomona’s older linebacker and younger brother Jonny, a sophomore student in Ralston Valley, were both victims of a car accident in June 2019. While Jonny walked away from the scene with a broken thigh bone, broken patella, and broken spine, it required few surgeries. Marcus’ condition was much worse.
It took him three days to come out of his induced coma. His father was the first person he saw.
“I couldn’t speak at the time because I had a tube in my throat so I couldn’t speak. I just squeezed his hand, yes or no,” said Marcus.
Jon said it was another day before he spoke his first words.
“When they finally took the intubation out of his mouth, the first thing he looked at me was’ Dad, I’m sorry ‘and it just brought me to tears. I said,’ You’re alive, there’s nothing to apologize for. ‘”
His parents shared these tears and moments of uncertainty with their closest friends: Coach Madden and his wife Shalene.
“I’ve known him since he was born. We’re families together. It was a whole different moment when I went into it,” Madden said. “It would have been devastating, no matter who it was, whether they played at Pomona or not, it would have been devastating, but having it the way it was changed everything.”
There were moments during the week when people in the Pomona community, and even the Geypens and Maddens, weren’t sure if Marcus was going to wake up or leave. Fast forward 17 months and Marcus will start his senior year at Linebacker.
“When I knew Marcus, I knew if it was possible, he would make it,” Madden said. “He’s an extremely tough kid. I just wish we could have put him in the weight room so he could put on a little weight before the season started. I’m so glad we got to play football this year to make him his Got a chance. He hurt his knee in his sophomore year, so he didn’t play, he hurt his back as a junior and now he’s allowed to play as a senior. “
Those injuries and even the accident are now just scars: memories of the adversity he had to overcome to get to that climax.
“I just have a lot of big scars. I have a big one on my ankle, one here on my stomach and one on my back from my back surgery,” said Marcus. “I just think about how hard it was and all that I had to do to get back to where I am now, to fight, physiotherapy and all that stuff.”
As his teammates discuss the ramifications of this upcoming game, Marcus knows how to put his exaggeration into perspective.
“There are more important things in life. You just can’t take anything for granted. You have to live for the moment and do your best to honestly do what you want to do and who you are,” he said.
And who is Marcus Geypens? Well, now he has the rest of his life to find out.