Welcome to Behind the G! This is a Georgia Way platform that shares student-athlete stories, hobbies, and what is important to them. To the world, student-athletes are viewed by their outcomes in their sports, but they are so much more than that. Our goal is to share with the world in their own words who they are as people, and the numerous ways they represent the G on and off the field.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1: 2-4
Life in its entirety is full of ups and downs. Adversity in our lives creates a roadblock just as a fork in the road does to a traveler with no directions. We may not know it at the time, but the decisions we make amidst challenges shape our ever-winding path through life. Each adverse situation in our life is testing our perseverance and our willingness to not back down. Jesus in the Bible is a great example of this. He ultimately came perfect and holy to this world to be betrayed, beaten, and hung on a cross to save anyone who would believe in Him. Each of us face trials and tribulations that rock our world. Mine began before I was even born.
I am more than blessed to come from a strong faith-based family from the town of Kennesaw, Ga., just outside of Atlanta. With that being said, my family’s faith was put to the test early on in my parents’ relationship. Back in 2000, my mother was pregnant with me, and she and my father were absolutely elated to welcome a son into this world. What many people do not know is that the son they were about to welcome into this world was a miracle baby. While in the middle of her pregnancy with me, my mother, Sara, woke up in the middle of the night in complete fear and horror. She knew something was wrong. You see, she had been working as a labor and delivery nurse for many, many years prior to having me so when she got up in the middle of night screaming for help in the bathroom my father instantly knew something awful had happened. My mother had completely thought she lost me. Again, she worked with this kind of stuff for all her working life and so she knew it was over, but God had other plans. After the long ride to the hospital, miraculously I was still there, still fighting, still alive. From this moment my parents knew I was a fighter. Thankfully after the events of my mom’s pregnancy with me, I was delivered safely and was healthy. I was a big, big baby ready to attack the world despite what it would throw against me.
My childhood growing up was one that I was lucky to have experienced. I stayed healthy for the most part and enjoyed playing sports, just truly being a kid. As soon as I entered high school though, that would all change. Over the course of high school and my first two years of college, I have had to undergo six surgeries to repair body parts. The biggest and scariest shook my world and turned it upside down. In the spring of 2018 as a junior in high school, our baseball team was playing in a region game, the first of the year. I was at first base and there was a fly ball hit towards the fence. Naturally, I begin to go into a dead sprint to my left to track the fly ball down. As I reached for the ball over a chain linked fence, I clipped my face on the top of it. All I remember was hitting the fence and then a few seconds later turning over on the ground to see a pool of blood. After discussing the options, my parents and I headed to the hospital mid-game, but we did not realize that the worst news was yet to come. As we arrived the doctors began X-rays on me to make sure there was no structural damage to my face besides my broken nose and split open lip. As we were sitting in the room expecting our doctor to come back in and say I was good to go, the unexpected happened. A flood of nurses and doctors overwhelmingly marched in one by one with not one single expression on their faces, creating tensions and stress between my parents and I. The news was not good: they believed that during the X-rays they found a tumor in over half of my jaw. This news absolutely rocked my world, but it absolutely crushed my parents even more.
We began planning the next steps and trying to figure out what our options were going to be for me. We decided that we needed to prematurely take out my wisdom teeth and dig a hole in my jaw to investigate further into what it was. For the days leading up to the procedure, I found myself on my knees in tears just crying out to Jesus. This is where I found my identity. This was how I knew I was going to fight my battles, through Jesus. Fast forward to after surgery when we received the news on what was found, and it was news that shocked us all. There was absolutely nothing in my jaw. Doctors said they had never seen anything like it ever. The only explanations were that I had just had a physical anomaly and had an empty jaw or that the supposedly tumor that was there was miraculously cleared. I knew deep down though that whichever one was the case that it was all a part of God’s plan and for His glory.
Unfortunately, my story of adversity does not end here as a few months later as my high school football team was competing at a record breaking 4-0 start to the year, I tore my ACL. This caused me to miss my senior high school baseball season and enroll early at the University of Georgia to play both football and baseball. As life just kept throwing punches at me left and right, sadly on the first day of fall camp before my freshman season I broke my hand and had to miss the rest of camp because of that surgery. This past season, my sophomore season, I tore my labrum and had to have surgery to repair that.
The comeback is a term that I do not take lightly. It has been almost two years since I have played in a baseball or football game and it is time for that streak to come to an end. Adversity is a part of life, but it builds who you are. It has built me into who I am. Without it, I would not be the man I am today. That man is a Christ-following family- and friend-loving guy who just happens to wear a UGA baseball and football jersey. Finding your identity is so important because the journey we call life is not easy or straightforward. My identity is who Christ says I am, a perfect and valuable child of God. I challenge you to find what makes you, you. Hold onto that in time of adversity. Cling to your values and never let go because your chance is coming. My chance is coming. Let’s be ready to take advantage of it.
Ryland Goede – UGA Football & Baseball