Athlete of the Week: After gruesome injury, Richmond Hill senior Tommy Bliss finds his happy place on football field


RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WSAV) – Georgia high school football teams are all too familiar with afternoon showers throwing a wrench in their practice plans. On Monday afternoon, Richmond Hill saw rain move their practice indoors.

That wasn’t going to stop the Wildcats from getting in some work: Not the coaches, not the players and especially not senior Tommy Bliss.

“It’s the bright spot of my day,” Bliss said. “Every single day.”

Even if it’s an hour-long indoor walkthrough, the defensive back said he cherishes every moment

“It’s been a full, or almost full, 11 months since I’ve played in a real game environment.”

No, Richmond Hill’s season was not cancelled because of coronavirus. Bliss suffered a season-ending injury in Week Two against Ware County.

“When I went down to the ground I remember saying ‘my season’s over my season’s over,'” Bliss said, when asked about the play that cut his junior season short.

The next day at the doctor’s office, his worst nightmare became a reality. Bliss broke his femur, the strongest and largest bone in his body, and suffered a torn meniscus. He spent the final 10 games of the season on crutches, watching from the sideline.

“You need someone there at all times,” Bliss explained. “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t down at times, but there wasn’t a dull moment when I was with my team and that’s all I could ever ask for out of them.”

Now, his teammates are asking him to be a leader, as the only player on this Wildcats’ defense who has started a varsity game. No one would have blamed Bliss for hanging up the cleats, but he never gave it thought.

“You can’t just leave it behind,” Bliss added. “Even though it took so much away, it’s given so much to me that I can’t forget. I have to play football.”

Spend five minutes at a Richmond Hill practice and you will realize that Bliss’ energy is contagious. The coaches love him and so do the younger players. This spring, in his first practice back from that greusome injury, Bliss used his influence to deliver a message to the team.

“You should never come out here with the mindset that ‘I have to practice.’ You get to practice,” Bliss remembered. “I remember every single day, coming out on those crutches, watching our guys doing it and just couldn’t wait to get back out. Now that I can do it again, I just want everyone to be thankful for the opportunity that they have because nothing is guaranteed.”

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