The Maui News 2013 MIL Volleyball All-Stars
WAILUKU – When Ryan Garces went down with a devastating broken leg midway through the 2012 football season, the Baldwin High School junior was leading the Maui Interscholastic League in receptions and receiving yardage.
His immediate thought? His athletic year was over.
Garces’ doctors shared the same opinion after he broke his left fibula and dislocated his ankle – a plate and six screws are still in his fibula.
“At first they said I was going to be out for the whole year,” Garces said.
Although not 100 percent, Garces made it back in December – cutting his prognosis for a return in half – to contribute to the Bears’ run to the state tournament in basketball.
That was just the beginning – Garces was on the volleyball court in February and his season ended by being voted The Maui News MIL Player of the Year by the league’s coaches.
“It was a setback for basketball and volleyball season,” the 5-foot-11, 155-pound Garces said. “But I had to just work back into it.”
Upon hearing of the volleyball honor, Garces said, “I was pretty stoked. It was a surprise to me.”
Garces is joined on the MIL first team by teammate Bradley Bowlin, Seabury Hall’s Max DeLyon and Blake Rizzo, Kamehameha Maui’s Kekoa Uyechi and Kahiau Andrade, and Maui High’s Jaryn Kuhaulua-Feiteira.
For leading the Sabers to their first state berth since 2003, Maui High’s Philip Velasco is the choice as MIL Coach of the Year.
Garces’ recovery left his doctors shaking their heads as well, including Dr. Jay Marumoto, his orthopedic surgeon.
“I surprised the doctors, too,” Garces said. “Dr. Marumoto on Oahu said that I was supposed to be out the whole year.”
Garces led the way to the Bears’ third MIL Division I title in the last four years with a leg that is still not 100 percent.
“It’s coming along, but I still have to stretch it,” Garces said.
Garces’ quick return to the hardwood stunned Baldwin coach Kalei Houpo, who is also the Bears’ receivers coach in football.
“At the beginning of the season we didn’t even think he was going to play,” Houpo said. “And for me, if he was going to play, it would be just sparingly. He turned it around. I told him, ‘If you have anything hurting just let me know’ and pretty much we will just take him out, but that never happened during a game. He stuck it out.”
And Garces developed into one of the biggest weapons in the league.
“He wasn’t even a hitter last year,” Houpo said. “Last year, he was our backup setter, so for him to take the role of getting almost all of the sets, he did a real good job of it.”
When the injury occurred at King Kekaulike Stadium in late September, Garces knew it wasn’t good.
“I was thinking something’s wrong with my leg, like, I was done,” he said. “I was thinking of my other sports, too.”
Garces, an outside hitter, said he is leaning toward basketball or volleyball for college athletics and isn’t sure whether he will play football as a senior.
“I was thinking basketball all the way, but now maybe volleyball,” he said. “I might have to go to another position, though. Maybe libero, or something. (Volleyball) is one of my favorites now, right behind basketball. It is always fun because of the teammates I have. We have a good team and stuff. We were pretty close this year.”
The 6-3 Bowlin was a large factor at middle blocker for a well-rounded Baldwin team.
“We had passers, we had Brad hitting middle, so it opened it up for us on the outside,” Garces said. “Kyson (Kaiama) put the sets out there perfect. It was a lot of fun this season.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com