Sunday, March 11, 2012


Katie is a gymnast. She lives and breathes gymnastics. She dreams gymnastics. She is gymnastics.

If you ask Katie what she wants to be when she is older, she says “a gymnast.” She can't picture her life without gymnastics.

Last year, Katie broke her leg as a result from falling from the bars at gymnastics practice. She suffered a tibial spine fracture, which meant the top of her tibia broke off and flipped up her ACL. She needed to have knee surgery and was in a full cast, and then a hinged brace for weeks. The child who never sits still needed to sit in a wheelchair all day. We needed to carry her down the stairs, holding on to the banister she used to slide down. The tree she climbed was empty, waiting for her to be well to swing from the branches. Katie couldn't go to school. A tutor came for an hour each day to catch Katie up on her missed work. Worst of all Katie couldn't go to the gym. No chalky hands, no rips. All her callouses were smooth. It was as if gymnastics was only a dream, and if gymnastics was a dream, falling was her nightmare.

After months of healing and physical therapy, my very impatient gymnast was allowed to return to training. While we loved the gym we were at, we found a gym closer to home which is now Katie's new home away from home. 4 days of training is not enough for her. Katie would be there every day if she could. She has asked to be home schooled so she can train all day, every day. I wonder if other people can see it. Can they see the dreams dancing through her eyes?

Katie is fighting a battle with a monster. This monster comes when she is least expecting it and fills her head with memories of falling from the bars. She has almost overcome it, but we are still not there yet. Katie is almost back to where she was before the accident. I tell her that she cannot compare herself to other Level 5s. She has only been training since October and she is coming back from a major injury. It took months for her to be able to straighten her knee. She will be at the top of her game before she knows it and she will be better than before. Katie has the drive to get her to where she wants to be.

Today, I watched her at a competition. Katie's confidence was back. She was going strong; first on floor, then vault. The third event was bars. I knew if she fell, there was a chance she could fall back in a slump. I watched through partially closed eyes. Through the slits of my eyelids, I saw it happen. She didn't get her squat on. Not only did she miss it once, but twice. Finally, with sheer determination and support from her coach, she got it and she finished her routine flawlessly.

Her scores do not matter to me and they shouldn't matter to her, but there it was. Bars: 7.65. I wanted to tell those judges that they don't know what she went through. They don't know how hard she had to work to get to where she is now. But the judges don't know her, nor do they care. Well, I'd like to think they'd care, and if there were a special point they could add on for courage, I would like to think they would award it to Katie.

I saw the tears, the disappointment, the discouragement. Her coaches are wonderful. They don't let Katie get down on herself. She was reminded that there was one more event and that everyone falls sometimes. Her friends came to her side. I tried to catch her eye and give her a thumbs up, but she looked straight past me.

Like the rockstar she is, she took to the beam and gave it all she had. While she might not have placed All Around, she rocked that competition today in true Katie fashion.

My daughter is fierce. She is a fighter. She is a gymnast.

While Katie and I were at the competition today, Pierre and the kids had a fun day at the park.

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