Injury gives Pitra perspective

Chris Steele
Ryan Pitra, right, breaks a tackle during Augustana’s game against Elmhurst. Pitra finished the game with 89 yards and a touchdown.

Missing the final two games of the season on the gridiron gave Augustana’s Ryan Pitra some perspective.

After needing two screws to repair a torn ligament in his foot, Pitra missed the final games of the 2017 season and would need time to get back to 100 percent.

“I’ve never had a big injury like that where I had to drop everything,” said Pitra, a 2015 Geneseo graduate. “I’m not going to lie, it was very difficult for me at times because I love lifting and getting after it with the guys. It was a different experience for me but it’s something that I’ve grown from.”

During his recovery, his foot was non-weight bearing, and he had to get around the Augustana College on a knee scooter.

Despite not being able to do his regular routine, Pitra still wanted to still make an

impact during the offseason.

“It was kind of an opportunity for me to step back and watch some guys and be a little bit more vocal in that sense because I couldn’t lead by example,” Pitra said. “Being a senior there is nothing to hold back. I’m willing to do whatever I need to do for my guys.”

While the comeback trail wasn’t easy for the Vikings’ Offensive Player of the Year, Pitra has returned to full health and says he’s in the best condition of his career as the 2018 season approaches.

A senior, Pitra believes the Vikings have what it takes to make a similar recovery on the field this season.

With a rough 2017 campaign behind them, Pitra believes the work Augustana players have put into the offseason has them primed for a turnaround after losing four games by less than three points last season.

The Vikings have six players returning on offense from last season, and Pitra knows that falling short last season didn’t sit well with anyone.

“We talk about finishing,” Pitra said. “We had a lot of close games not go our way last year. It’s something we have harped on through the offseason and spring ball, just finishing every single thing that we do because it’s what we need to do in games.”

Pitra says the team’s drive during the offseason has come from wanting to live up to the rich history of the Augie program, but more importantly, the Vikings players want to succeed for each other.

“You play for the guy next to you,” Pitra said. “It’s something that been engrained in us here at Augie is family. You hear that word more than any other word here.”

Augustana starts the season on the road against Coe College, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Saturday, Sept. 1 at 1 p.m.