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Friday, January 27, 2023

After being involved in a scooter accident Friday, Florida attacker Ashley Bruns will play in this weekend’s season opener. The situation is not as clear for Colby Rhea.

Bruns is expected to be in the lineup when Florida plays North Carolina on Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C., but coach Amanda O’Leary said Rhea will miss the game due to an undisclosed injury that occurred prior to Friday’s accident. There is no timetable for Rhea’s return.

O’Leary confirmed Monday that Rhea suffered severe facial injuries that required stitches after the scooter Rhea and Bruns were riding crashed into a car near the entrance to The Estates apartment complex Friday.

“I’m just happy they were wearing helmets,” O’Leary said.

O’Leary said Rhea sustained the facial injuries despite the fact that she and Bruns were wearing helmets when the accident occurred. O’Leary said she makes all players wear helmets if they choose to ride scooters.

“Obviously now, looking back it was a good idea,” she said.

After a number of players were involved in scooter accidents at the beginning of the Summer B semester, Florida soccer coach Becky Burleigh instituted a rule requiring all players to wear helmets when driving scooters.

O’Leary said she had Burleigh’s rule in mind when making the same decision last month. In addition to requiring all drivers to wear helmets, any lacrosse player riding a scooter as a passenger must also be wearing a helmet.

“There have been some incidents with athletes and scooters,” O’Leary said. “Looking across the board, it just made sense. It’s a helmet. It’s not that big of a deal.”

Gators basketball player Walter Pitchford and baseball player Casey Turgeon have suffered minor injuries in scooter accidents in the past six months.

For the lacrosse team, O’Leary took measures to ensure her players’ feet were protected as well. She put a rule in place requiring players riding on scooters to wear closed-toe shoes.

“They’ll put their feet down to stop … if they drag their toes and are in flip flops or whatever, then their skin flies off,” O’Leary said.

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Last season, Bruns was the Gators’ second-leading scorer with 46 goals and led the team with 28 assists. The junior attacker also earned first-team all-conference honors in 2011.

Rhea started in 13 games for the Gators in 2011, scoring 15 goals and recording three assists. The junior midfielder also missed Florida’s exhibition opener against England with the prior undisclosed injury.

Several freshmen will help replace Rhea’s production while she is out. Freshmen midfielders Nicole Graziano and Nora Barry saw time against England and combined for six goals. O’Leary also said freshman midfielder Shannon Gilroy, who missed the England game with a knee injury, will be back for the North Carolina game.

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