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Chopping Green

6/25/2009
Kyle Carter

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- David Green winced in pain and held his right shoulder; tears welled up in his eyes. The paramedics came rushing over.

They told him there was no way he could keep on competing. But there was no way he wouldn't, no matter what the paramedics were telling him.

He had put in too much time and training to give up at this point, ignoring his primary sport — golf — and focusing perhaps too much of his attention toward the lumberjack club at Central Oregon Community College.

He was one good event — the single buck — from winning the Western Conclave of the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Collegiate Challenge presented by Carhartt and earning a berth to the championships, so he would at least try.

At the qualifier in Eureka, Calif., Green suffered his injury during a non-TIMBERSPORTS standing block competition. His ax got stuck in the wood as he severed the log, and it swung around his body with the wood still in the ax. It dislocated his right shoulder, pulling his arm an inch and a half below the socket. But there was no stopping him.

"I had been training pretty hard for it, so I figured I might as well compete with pain," he said.

Never mind the possibility of permanent damage to his shoulder. Forget about a future as a professional golfer, a sport he's been playing since he was 6.

Despite only doing lumberjack sports for two years, Green loved the competition, and it was important to him to make the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS championship. His drive to make a mark perhaps increased after he missed qualifying for golf's U.S. Open by one stroke two years earlier.

"I enjoy both sports and try to both as much as I can," Green said.

Three months later, including weeks of rehab, Green competed at the championship and doesn't regret his decision to saw through the injury. Even though the championship was "a disaster — an F," it's something he would do again "without even thinking about it."

"I love the sport way too much," he said before finishing third out of six competitors in Columbus. "If I get hurt, it's just the way it goes."

Green had scholarship offers to play golf at Oregon or Oregon State, but neither of them were full rides and he didn't want to put the financial pressure on his parents of paying for three sons in college at the same time (both his brothers play Division I golf).

"I'm glad I stayed, because if I had gone to one of those schools, I never would have discovered this sport," Green said.

His love for lumberjack sports is genuine. He skipped the U.S. Open qualifier this year because it was a week before the collegiate finals and he wanted to train.

"I kind of put all my time to this," Green said, "even though you couldn't tell."

Green, a little over 6-feet tall and around 180 pounds, said his shoulder didn't bother him in the finals, but a stress fracture along his back gave him fits. His broken spine had healed a few years back, but he reinjured it in golf. Doctors have told him that once it's reinjured, it can't be fixed.

"I tweaked it in the single buck and it bothered me a little bit, but it's no excuse. I'm used to competing with pain," he said. "I lost it upstairs, today.

"For so many years playing golf, my brain is so tapped into focusing for hours … Getting up there and trying to put it together for 30 seconds, it's totally different. I was nervous."

Green isn't sure of his future. The winner of the collegiate championship gets a sponsorship to compete on the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Professional Series, so Green might prolong his college career for that and try again next year. He also said he'd like to go pro in golf, but that it's considerably harder to do.

In the short term, he will go back to Central Oregon Community College and get his degree in natural resources. He is studying to become an environmental scientist so he can work with his dad, who's an environmental consultant.

Regardless of how things shake out at school, Green said becoming a STIHL TIMBERSPORTS professional is on his list of things to do — if he could only get genetics to cooperate.

"This sport has made an impression on me and I'm going to try my hardest to go pro," Green said. "I've got a long way to go. It would help if I could get a little bigger."