Brett Gravatt, right, facing Michigan State. (Penn State athletics photo)

Brett Gravatt, a Penn State soccer player from Northern Virginia who played for D.C. United’s under-23 squad, suffered a spinal cord injury in a snowboarding accident during winter break and is recovering at a rehabilitation facility in Atlanta.

Gravatt, a sophomore defender who scored a sensational goal in the NCAA tournament, fractured a thoracic vertebrae and is paralyzed from the lower chest down.

“Brett has been dealt a challenging situation and I am sure he will attack it with the same amazing competitive drive he demonstrated this past fall with our team,” Nittany Lions Coach Bob Warming said. “Our job is to encourage, applaud and support the effort he is going to put forth.”

The accident occurred Dec. 26 at Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre in Lynchburg, Va. Gravatt was airlifted to University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville, where he underwent surgery to insert two rods and eight screws. Last week he was moved to Atlanta’s Shepherd Center. While the outlook for regaining feeling in some part of his body is good, chances of a full recovery are remote.

However, on a website created to provide updates on his condition, his Dunn Loring-based family wrote:

“Just like the day you were born you had a less than 1% chance of becoming a Division 1 athlete. Odds didn’t get much better when he made it to his senior year of high school and was still playing strong. His odds of playing D1 only went up to 5.5%. … Don’t count this guy out just yet. He’s a beast. If anyone could ever do it Brett can.”

Gravatt, 19, played at Marshall High School in Falls Church before enrolling at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. He signed with national power Akron before transferring after his freshman year to Penn State. After recovering from a knee injury suffered with United’s U-23s in May, he appeared in 11 matches for the Nittany Lions this past fall and scored his first career goal, a tiebreaking strike in the 74th minute against Hartwick in the first round of the national tournament.

Gravatt’s Penn State bio

To help the family, follow this link