Rebel Gymnastics Team Perserveres despite Injuries


A Walpole gymnast competes in the floor routine at a meet.

Hiromi Kondo

A Walpole gymnast competes in the floor routine at a meet.
A Walpole gymnast competes in the floor routine at a meet. Photo/Hiromi Kondo

A varsity gymnastics team needs four athletes to officially compete in every event against another team in the Bay State League. If a team only has three healthy athletes, they must forfeit the entire team competition. For 0-9 Walpole Gymnastics this year, the flexible roster of ten athletes has been stretched across the numerous events this season to ensure that they never forfeit a meet.

Walpole Gymnastics has a total of ten gymnasts and seven out of those ten have been injured at some point this season. While 2013-2014 Walpole Gymnastics averaged about 127 points per meet for their 6-3 season, the Rebels this season only averaged about 112 points, and they have lost by an average of about 14 points against other Bay State teams.

Unlike any other sport, if a gymnast gets injured mid-meet, the coach must substitute someone unfamiliar with the event into the lineup in order to not forfeit the meet. That can mean constructing a 90 second floor routine with vigorous dance and three tumbling passes or an 80 second beam routine with jump series and leaps on four inches of wood. All within a very short window of time.

Because of injuries, numerous gymnasts stepped up for the team during competitions. One of the healthy newcomers, freshman Carlie Cavanaugh started her gymnastics career this year and although limited in experience, Cavanaugh reliably competed in two events—vault and beam, the events that require the most experience.

“Joining the team as a freshman is probably the best decision I’ve made this year,” said Cavanaugh. “Everyone is really friendly and supportive and it really does become like a second family.”

Similarly, sophomore Sarah Stanton also stepped up on multiple occasions to keep the Rebels from forfeiting. On Tuesday, January 13, Stanton intended to compete two events—bars and floor. However, at the last minute she ended up competing vault and beam as well in order to meet the requirement. Despite the lack of preparation, Stanton stuck her beam routine.

In addition to Stanton, sophomores Jillian Sweeney and Izzy Nee consistently compete in every event and usually score the highest Walpole Point Total. For many events, they often lead individual scoring by higher scores, sometimes achieving an 8 in their respective events.

Sophomores Elyse Good, Sweeney, and Nee, and juniors Catherine Formica and Kaitlin Porter make up over half of the competing members, and all faced injury at some point. Good struggles with ankle pain, Sweeney recovered from a sprained ankle and tendinitis in her wrists, Nee dealt with back pain, Formica has a weakened elbow due to multiple dislocations, and Porter broke and severely sprained muscles in her ankle during the fall.

‘‘It was easy to get frustrated because I couldn’t come back fully all at once, but I realized it would heal quicker if I came back slowly,” Sweeney said, “and now that I’m almost back in full I’m glad I chose to do that.”

Sophomore Brigid Ford has the most serious injury that kept her from competition for the entire season. Ford has genetic back problems that sidelined her for this season; however, she attended every meet to support her team.

“It’s hard to watch everyone while I sit out,” Ford said, “but it makes me realize how hard everyone works and I’m excited to come back next season.”

Although the Walpole gymnastics team faced multiple injuries, they continued through their 2014-2015 season, following the leadership of their senior captains Christina Coville and Sarah Armstrong.

Senior Captain Christina Coville said, “I think it’s more important to beat our own personal scores in order to build up the team and we need to stay positive despite injuries.”

Sports injuries are usually a result of training process or taking part at competition. If you or a loved one have been injured because of another person or group’s negligence, this is different and it can be a cause of legal action, should you decide to seek for compensation. The Justice Guardians are ready yo assist you in this process, so you can get the compensation you deserve.