The Georgia Swarm got a booster shot before its game on Feb. 11 against the Toronto Rock as Jordan Hall and Chad Tutton both made their season debuts. Georgia took the win in a thrilling 14-13 overtime contest that was every lacrosse fan’s dream, and the energy surrounding the Swarm postgame was noticeably different with the two back.
Everyone knows what Hall brings to the team’s offense, but with Tutton coming back from the serious injury he suffered in Game 1 of the 2017 East Division Finals, all eyes were on him to see how he fared. The third-year transition player did great, playing the aggressive Tutton D fans have grown accustomed to. But Tutton will be the first to tell you he still has a long way to go. During the bye week, we talked about his first game back, what he did to get back in shape, and the toughest part of his rehab:
First game back after missing the offseason and first half of the season. What was your emotion coming back into everything?
Beginning of the game, a little bit nervous, had some nerves for sure. Maybe a little bit uncomfortable out there to begin with, I guess. But it only took one or two shifts, and it felt like I was back into it. Felt really good being out there again helping the team, which is really my biggest goal, doing whatever I can personally to help the Swarm win. That’s what I think I did out there to the best of my abilities. I’m looking forward to continuing building on that.
It wasn’t just your return, Hallsy also played his first game. How was it debuting this season with him?
Yeah, that was pretty cool. Jordan Hall is a great guy. I look up to him. He’s like an older, more savvy vet player. Just having him out there sparking our offense – obviously he had three goals in his debut – that was huge for us, not only offensively, but it helps so much defensively, too, when you’ve got a guy going out there banging bodies around, setting picks, getting other guys open. It really helps out the defense, too, knowing that we have that key element back in the lineup.
How do you feel your performance went that night, up to your normal standards or do you need a game or two to shake off that rust?
Yeah, obviously you’re a little rusty. Definitely not where I want to be, and that’s a given. I wasn’t expecting to come back and just be like, “Oh, it’s the Chad Tutton of old.” No, that’s never how it works. Anybody who’s gone through a significant injury like this knows it takes a game or two to kind of get back into the swing of things, get your game legs back. I feel like I’m in great shape right now, and I was out there still feeling a little bit gassed, because game-shape and just actual being in shape are two completely different things, and it takes a game or two to kind of get back into the rhythm of things. Moving forward here, we had a bye weekend this past weekend, but this weekend we’ve got a doubleheader, and I’m really looking forward to that. I think I’m going to make some big strides there.
Speaking of getting back into shape, what did you do to get back into the great shape you’re in?
The biggest thing is diet and proper eating habits. Obviously being hurt and injured, I wasn’t really in a good place mentally for a long time, and I guess I kind of gained a couple of pounds that way, but I really focused, really batted down the hatches of my diet. No sugars, limited carbohydrates, no pastas, nothing that’s going to be bad for me. A very strict diet was huge for me. Also, I’ve been doing, it’s called Orange Theory Fitness with my girlfriend. I think that’s also really been helping my cardio level, as well as losing those pounds in my off-time there.
Orange Theory, the soccer mom workout?
It’s honestly mostly middle-aged women in there, but that doesn’t bother me none, I don’t care. It works for me; I like it. It’s hard, it’s extremely hard. You get out of it what you put into it kind of thing. You can go in there and lollygag, screw around, you’re not going to get anything out of it. But you go in there and push yourself, you see results, and you see them fairly fast. It monitors your heart rate, you wear a heart rate monitor the entire time. You’re always just trying to push yourself throughout the whole workout, which I like.
Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Were you really pushing yourself over the past couple of months to get yourself back in shape for an early return?
The last few months, I definitely buckled down. I had this goal of February in my mind. Everybody said anywhere between nine and 12 months, and I wanted to make sure I was on that early end of that spectrum there and made sure I was back in nine months. I made sure that I’m doing all the right things. I’m going to physio still, one to two times a week, gym every day, proper diet like I said. Just everything that I’ve been trying to do to put myself in a position to succeed, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job at that so far.
Did you talk with Kinger about everything since he suffered a similar injury a year and a half ago?
Yeah, I definitely talked to Kinger a bunch. I talked to a lot of guys, actually. Talked to, when it first happened, talked to Cody Jamieson (Rochester). He suffered the exact same injury about a year or two ago. I kind of just got what he had to do. He helped me out a bit there. Talked to Kinger, talked to some other guys who I went to college with that suffered knee injuries. The biggest thing was just the mental aspect of it, especially near the end where I personally felt like, “Okay, I’m ready, I feel good, I want to be back in the lineup,” but maybe it wasn’t quite time yet. So, that last kind of month there was a really big push for me, and there’s a lot of people who helped me out along the way.
You’ve attended the Swarm games this season while you were still on the Injured List and have seen the team’s ups and downs so far. In your opinion, was the win against Toronto a turning point in the season for the team, or is it too early to make that call?
It’s very hard to watch, regardless. It’s even harder to watch when we’re losing. A lot of guys have said that me and Hallsy coming back has given them a bit of a spark, and maybe it’s just what the doctor ordered. At the same time, you can’t just go out and say that’s why we were winning, that’s why we won that last game. I think it’s a step in the right direction, but we’ve also got a long way to go to get to where we need to be to ultimately achieve our final goal, which is winning that Champion’s Cup like we did last year.