When the COVID-19 outbreak began forcing major cancellations across the world of sports, Cartersville High graduate Garrett Geros was getting ready to compete in a World Para Snowboard event in Norway.
The World Cup event was canceled March 12 after the Norwegian Institute of Public Health issued a statement to cease “all events with 500 or more participants.” Geros and the rest of his compatriots were forced to scramble to find a way home to avoid being stranded in Scandinavia.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Geros said of the experience. “At first, they told the Italian team, the Japan team and the Austrian team that they couldn’t even compete, because there were supposed to be outbreaks in their countries. Everyone was just shocked about that. Our race was still on. Those countries just couldn’t compete.
“The day before the test training day, they told everyone they would have to be out [of the country] in 24 hours, or they would be keeping us for two weeks to quarantine us there. I was like, ‘What is going on?’ It felt like a zombie apocalypse.”
Geros and his U.S. Para snowboarding teammates eventually made it back to America, but it wasn’t the same nation they had left behind.
The Colorado mountains, where the members of Team USA train, were closed due to the pandemic. The remainder of the World Cup schedule was called off. Although, even if it hadn’t been, travel in and out of the United States had become extremely limited.
After being back in Colorado for about two days, there was nothing for Geros to do but return home to Bartow County.
“I had no plan,” he said. “I would still be in Colorado now. But with the virus, it cut my training months short. A lot of our competitions got canceled. We were supposed to go to Sweden after Norway, and they were like ‘Nope, not allowed to anymore.’”
Similar challenges faced Geros in Georgia, forcing him to find creative ways to work out. He picked up a job at Governors Towne Club — a golf course in Acworth — because it was the only place he could find that was hiring.
Things have gotten easier training-wise since gyms have been allowed to reopen. He’s also purchased a season pass to Terminus Wake Park, which recently reopened on the LakePoint Sports campus.
“Just try to get out and do as much as possible,” Geros said of how he has handled the changes. “Basically, just try to keep sane. My dad’s got some weights at the house, so I’m doing some weightlifting. Thank God the gym actually opened back up in Cartersville, so I’ve started getting back into the gym.
“When I first came home, it was unbelievable. I’ve never seen the world like this before, and I didn’t even know how to react to it.”
While the past two months have been some of the most trying times that many individuals have encountered, it doesn’t stack up too well with some of the adversity that Geros has faced. Having battled his way through plenty of physical and mental anguish, he went from losing most of his left leg in a one-vehicle accident in high school to becoming a member of the U.S. Paralympic team in the span of a few years.
Everyone handles stress differently, but Geros’ past would seem to make him better equipped than most to face such an uncertain time.
“I’ve turned to God a lot during this time to help relieve this stress,” he said. “Being able to lean on Him has really helped me. I think my faith has been one big part of it. …
“This is a lot easier than what I have dealt with. This is basically just needing to stay home. I’ve dealt with a lot more adversity than that, losing a leg, trying to get back into everyday life and trying to get back into sports. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. This is a way easier stress to deal with than what I’ve already been through.”
Geros, whose sponsors include Adaptive Action Sports and Savannah Excavation, is excited to eventually return to Colorado. He hopes he’ll be able to do so in October, when the snow typically begins to fall consistently enough to snowboard.
Whenever the time does come to head back to the Rocky Mountains, Geros will take with him a slightly adjusted outlook.
“You never know how bad you’re going to miss something until you actually lose it,” he said. “We lost part of our season, and I just miss it so bad. I can’t wait to get back out there.
“I’m going to really start taking it in and enjoying what I have the opportunity to be able to do. … I think I’m really going to go out there with a different mindset to be thankful for everything that I’m able to do.”