Gary Bragg: The Epitome of Dedication and Determination

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Last year Mountain Pointe senior running back Gary Bragg burst onto the Arizona high school football scene. Through the Pride’s first 5 games, Bragg rushed for 891 yards and 11 touchdowns, while averaging 9.3 yards per carry and 178.2 yards per game.

It was during that fifth game, against Pinnacle, that Bragg’s season came to an abrupt end. “All I remember is coach called a blue draw. I love that play. Then I got the ball. I tried to fight for extra yards, tried to spin out of a tackle, and then I heard something pop. I knew something was wrong, but I tried to get up and play it off. I then tried to walk back to the huddle. I just fell and I knew something was wrong.” Bragg said.

Mountain Pointe Free Safety Kenny Churchwell adds, “once I saw his eyes and when he dropped his head down, it was just like tears came to my eyes.”

Bragg soon learned he had torn the ACL in his knee, and was out for the rest of the season. “I was in tears because it was terrible. It was a heartbreaking moment. It just came to an end so quickly.”

“Never take anything for granted.” Mountain Pointe head coach Norris Vaughan adds, “last year at that time, I thought he was the best back in the state. He and Chandler’s T.J. Green (now at Utah), both outstanding.”

Soon after surgery, Bragg began a grueling rehabilitation program. “Just me learning how to walk again. It was painful because I always favored it, because every time you step on it, it feels like it’s about to give out on you. It plays with your mind a lot. It just takes a lot to overcome.” the 5’10” 175 pound senior said. It was not only a tough time physically, but mentally as well. “The low point was not being able to be a part of the team. All of the activities they were able to do, go to practices, be on the bus. Just be part of the team. That was my low point. I remember they wrote me a big poster card and everyone signed it, and just said a bunch of inside jokes. It was just good laughs that I needed. And then my mom, it really broke my heart to cry because of how much pain that she saw me in. She stayed there throughout the process and I really love her for that. And my sister, she has always been a positive impact in my life. I love her dearly for that.”

It was not only a tough time physically, but mentally as well. “The low point was not being able to be a part of the team. All of the activities they were able to do, go to practices, be on the bus. Just be part of the team. That was my low point. I remember they wrote me a big poster card and everyone signed it, and just said a bunch of inside jokes. It was just good laughs that I needed. And then my mom, it really broke my heart to cry because of how much pain that she saw me in. She stayed there throughout the process and I really love her for that. And my sister, she has always been a positive impact in my life. I love her dearly for that.”

The Pride have loved having Bragg back this season, as the senior has been able work his way back out onto the field. Through 7 games, the running back had rushed for 589 yards and 5 touchdowns.

“I am happy that he came back. He was really excited and I was excited to see him again. I just think it was going to be really good for both of us to be able to run the ball.” Junior running back Jakim McKinney said.

Bragg adds, “I became a better teammate, because last year I was more to myself. This year I am more vocal, especially with Jakim. I tell him things that he and I could both be better at as running backs.”

Vaughan knows his running back has come a long way, but still has a ways to go. “It’s been a little over a year now. He has worked really hard in the weight room and rehabbed. A lot of sweat and a lot of fears. He came back very uncertain, and when he played, he played very uncertain. Those fears are back there in the back of your head.”

Bragg admits he’s still not 100% healthy, but after watching Mountain Pointe fall short in the state championship game last year against Chandler, he is certain on how he wants his senior season to end. Bragg said, “last year watching it, it was painful knowing that you could have made a different outcome. So just knowing I could have been out there helping my team, it was just painful to watch honestly. So it just makes me more hungry. It would be a dream come true. That is all I want to do is win a championship.”

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