1.17.2013

How I got here: 6

How I Got Here: Alex and Injuries

The first time I met coach Alex, it was my first summer at Capital.  It was also Alex's first year coaching gymnastics in America after moving from Ukraine where he was a coach to a group of boys.  That summer was particularly rough.  Not only was I getting used to being at a new training facility, one of my new coaches had a short temper fuse.  The smallest things would get him yelling: talking, being scared of attempting skills...  He was one to not hesitate to kick you off of practice for the remaining time of whichever event you happened to be on with him.  For a pre-teen and young teen, it was really intimidating at first.
My mom was always big in setting me up with private lessons.  I generally dreaded attending these since it was just me and my coach alone for an hour.  On one of two days a week I did not have my regular four-hour practices.  Working on skills that scared me to pieces.  The only benefit I can see from them as I reflect on my private lessons now is that it built a great rapport between myself and Alex.  I began to trust him to make sure I wouldn't fall when he was spotting me on new skills.  Likewise, you could say that I became one of his favorites.

Being a favorite became especially useful as I got older and he became my head coach, overseeing my bar routines, vaults, tumbling skills on floor, and conditioning exercises.  At competitions, it was nearly always just me and Alex.  He helped me with roughly 75% of my competition preparation, and it was nice to know that at least one of my four coaches truly cared enough about me to see the hard work pay off and share in the victories (or stand by in the rough patches).

Coach Alex always watching in the background

The word gymnast can be synonymous with injury to many people.  Injuries are essentially an unavoidable aspect of throwing your body around in ways most of the population does not.  Add in dangerous equipment, and you've got a recipe for a potential disaster.  Yes, new gymnasts generally spend the first part of the careers learning to fall safely, but as the tricks get bigger, so does the risk of injury.

Ankle sprain, circa 2001
I was lucky.  Up until 2004, I had never had a major injury.  There was only a handful of ankle sprains, maybe some sore wrists and knees, and a couple of jammed phalanges, but nothing that took me out of practice for too long.  My broken ankle was the first of my teenage injuries, and keep in mind, I was one of the healthier gymnasts to compete.

One time, I was tumbling on floor and my knee did something weird.  I think it may have been a minor sprain.  There also was that time when I was working on front giants on strap bar.  I managed to slip out of my straps, fly across the gym, and take the brunt of my landing on my elbow.  I didn't have full range of motion in my elbow for a few weeks, so I think it was only a sprain, but what really nagged me and eventually became a driving force to stop gymnastics was a combination of two things.

After being a high school gymnast for three years (in addition to club gymnastics) and routinely practicing and competing on sub-par equipment, namely floors, I developed shin splints in my right leg.  Around this time, my back began to hurt a lot for unknown reasons.  I began sitting out most of practice due to hurting too much to practice.  Gymnastics was no longer worth my time.

Only a few more days left to support me in becoming a Top Dance Blog finalist!  Show your support here!

Goals: Fix fancy jump in reel 3rd
Days till NANs: 169

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