Ref returns to the field after traumatic injury

Football Frenzy

CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — A high school football referee returned to the field Friday night for the first time since nearly losing his leg while officiating a game in 2017.

High school football referee Gary Youngs was injured during one of the games that season. By the end of the night, he was convinced it would be his last.

It was the last play of the game. Youngs said the home team was up and then he was done.

“The play comes this way, I turned, and the players fell and rolled into me,” Youngs said. 

The injury was traumatic, and Youngs’ leg was on the line. 

“I was within 40 minutes of losing my leg,” he said. “My artery had crushed into the back of my leg.”

Youngs said the medical professionals at Spectrum Health saved his leg, calling them his ‘miracle team’. 

Two years and a lot of physical therapy later, Youngs returned to the field Friday as a ref for Cedar Springs High School’s first home game of the season. 

“I’d like to do one more game just to finish a game,” Youngs said. “I didn’t want my last game to be in the ambulance.”

Although he was nervous, Youngs said the pregame jitters were gone by the first down.

“It was great,” he said. “As soon as we started playing, everything else goes away.”

Youngs hasn’t decided if this game would be his last.

Either way, he’s proud to be walking away from the game on his own two feet.

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