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Injured Bear River star Toran Maronic inspires Raiders training camp

By: Ike Dodson of the Auburn Journal
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“Dear Lord, the battles we go through in life. We ask for a chance that is fair — a chance to equal our strides — a chance to do or dare. If we should win, let it be by the code, with faith and honor held high. If we should lose, we will stand by the road and cheer as winners go by. Day by day we get better and better until we can’t be beat — won’t be beat. Raiders on three. One, two, three, Raiders!”

Flanked by stars Derek Carr and Khalil Mack and surrounded by other Oakland Raiders at an NFL training camp in Napa Valley, 16-year-old Bear River senior Toran Maronic was dwarfed by a mass of silver, black, bodies and pads.

His words stood tall, growing as his mantra went on.

The players repeated each word and gave Toran a little love after he broke down the team practice. The moment culminated a remarkable day for the Maronic family, July 31, just a month after Toran was forced into a medically-induced coma following a freak accident during a passing football tournament in Morro Bay.

Trauma and recovery

According to Toran’s father, Dave Maronic, Toran lost consciousness when he dove for a ball and collided with two men watching another game. The trauma resulted in serious damage to Toran’s brain, but 17 days in California hospitals gave way to a dramatic return home before a crowd of supporters.

The injury rocked Bear River’s Lake of the Pines community, but Toran’s remarkable recovery has inspired NFL talent and fascinated U.S. physicians. In a whirlwind return to identity, Toran quickly found his feet, his tongue and his familiar passions.

“He is doing much better and improves every day,” Toran’s mother, Cortney Maronic, said Wednesday. “Doctors from all over the country have asked to research him because they can’t believe the things he is doing.”

A highly-recruited club lacrosse player, Toran was one of the top players on Bear River’s 2015 football roster. He was poised to become a vital 2016 playmaker for the Bruins’ back-to-back section finalist squad.

“It’s the football season, and he had high hopes, but his dreams are on hold for just a second,” Cortney said, fighting back tears. “He will do bigger and better things than he ever did, but he’s stuck in this moment and time.

“He just goes forward with therapy every day, just looking for the future. He’s pretty amazing.”

Toran has speech therapy twice a week, physical therapy three days a week and enjoys a lacrosse skills therapy session with Coach Greg Porter of the Gold Country Stampede four times a week.

He’s becoming more independent each day, but Toran is unable to drive and every action is carefully made to protect the extremely vulnerable damaged part of his brain.

“We don’t have to watch him every second anymore, and he’s able to be a normal teenager on Instagram, but he can’t do too much, because even bumping his head falling off the bed could kill him,” Cortney said. “He is leaps and bounds above where he should be.

“It’s a long road to recovery, but he’s exceptional at this point.”

Training camp

One of Toran’s doctors has a close connection to NFL coaches and physicians and, soon after his injury, Raiders coaches and players reached out to the family and shared concerns on social media.

Carr, a rising talent behind center, appeared touched by Toran’s hospital stay just 10 miles from the same Fresno State campus where he became a top NFL prospect.

“Prayers for Toran Maronic, Bear Valley HS, out of coma after accident Fri during 7on7 tourney, recovering at Valley Children’s,” Carr said via Twitter.

Cortney said Carr spent about 15 minutes with both Toran and his brother Tredan Maronic, Bear River’s JV quarterback, discussing Carr’s ambition to require college and high school players to wear helmets during the same 7-on-7 drill in which Toran was injured.

She said Linda Del Rio, the wife of Coach Jack Del Rio, took a particular interest in the family.

“Mrs. Del Rio came up to us and called him a miracle,” Cortney said. “She said, ‘I have been following your story and I am so impressed.’”

When Cortney told Linda Del Rio that Toran had a mantra he recited for lacrosse and football, Linda was immediately driven to have the speech recited for the Raiders players. Moments later, Toran got his chance.

“It was really special to meet Toran and his family and have him out at practice today. He has experienced both a traumatic injury and also been through a pretty miraculous recovery,” Jack Del Rio said. “It is clear that Toran is a special young man who has an unbelievably positive outlook on the injury, the rehab, and what life will mean moving forward.”

A video from the Raiders training camp features Toran leading the team break at the closure of camp with his signature chant. It was quickly linked to the official Raiders website, Facebook page and Twitter account, amassing nearly 100,000 views on Facebook within a few days.

“The whole organization was just amazing to us the whole day,” Cortney said. “Coach Del Rio had a goodie bag waiting for us and the players came over and signed autographs and talked with us.

“This was an extraordinary day for Toran and for us. It was really cool.”

The next step

Treatment continues for Toran, and doctors will get another look at the damaged part of his brain when he goes in for his next MRI scan in December.

Until then, he will work to recover with the repeated therapy sessions — including cryotherapy, activating a central nervous system response to subzero temperatures.

The family will continue to rally alongside remarkable community support. School fundraisers made an immediate impact and Toran’s GoFundMe campaign (www.gofundme.com/

2bgmzsr4) has raised $16,555 toward a $25,000 goal.

Cortney said she doesn’t expect a doctor to release him for football, but Toran’s lacrosse career could see rejuvenation if he continues to vault along his recovery timeline.

Day by day he gets better and better until he can’t be beat — won’t be beat.