Injury. Every gymnasts worst nightmare.
The summer before my freshman year, my long season took its toll. Always plagued by back issues, they became so severe that my sports orthopedic forced me to sit out the season. Months of physical therapy and rest didn’t help. Repeated comeback attempts failed. Finally my doctor confronted me with the fact that with two bulging discs, arthritis in my spine and a pre-stress fracture, he couldn’t recommend that I continue my rigorous practice schedule.
I was devastated. I was being told I had to give up all I had worked and sacrificed for just when I was reaching the top.
So the decision of my life was on the line. Continue with the Junior Olympic program but risk facing back pain for the rest of my life or drop down to the less competitive High School team and keep my body healthy.
I weighed the pros and cons of each for days.
Our High School Varsity team was a completely different world from what I knew. It demanded less hours, less pressure, but was more team oriented and would allow me to get more involved with my school. On the other hand, JO was what I knew. It gave me my teammates who turned into my life long friends, and my coaches who became my second parents and who I still ask for advice to this day.
In the end though, I had to do what was right for my body. I had to put aside my dream of competing for a D1 team (as college coaches don’t look at high school gymnasts) and joined my town’s High School varsity team as a sophomore.
High school sports was a whole new world. I was able to compete with my high school friends, enjoy pasta parties, bus rides, and team spirit. I no longer had to travel 45 minutes to go to practice and I was home much earlier than the 10pm I was used to. Our practices took place in our very own gym, and although we had to set up and break down the equipment everyday once we got into a rhythm it was quick and easy.
Once we started actually competing my love for high school gymnastics grew even more. I loved hearing my teammates cheer me on during my routines. It alway gave me that extra bit of energy so that I could perform to the best of my abilities.
In fact, to this day, I can still remember my first high school competition as it took place in the very gym I started my career in (weird!). It’s funny how some things can come full circle like that.
At any rate, I was very proud to contribute to the success of my team. Both my sophomore and junior years we won our League Championships, placed Second at the State Championships and qualified for the New New England Regional Championships.
Little did I know by the end of my junior year that my senior year of competition season would be my most successful. After yet again more change senior year, my accomplishments would definitely make it all worth it…