Injuries seem to take a toll on any college sports team, but it seems to have taken a lot out of this year’s University of Utah’s gymnastics team.
Earlier in the season when the Red Rocks competed in their first quad meet on Friday, Jan. 20, the team was plagued with injuries the week of the event. Junior Tiffani Lewis suffered a split in her toe, but she was still able to compete in some events. Then, sophomore Sabrina Schwab went down the next day when she tore her ACL, and the injuries didn’t end there.
While on the road to compete against Washington on Saturday, Jan. 28, Kim Tessen was warming up on floor when her Achilles tendon tore, and she was done for the season.
Despite their setbacks, co-head coach Megan Marsden said that her and co-head coach Tom Farden check in on Schwab and Tessen every day, and they have made sure the girls still feel like they are a part of the team, though they may not be competing on the floor.
“That is just the way we operate here that we travel everybody so, in spite of their injuries, they have gone with us on the road,” Marsden said. “We even determined surgeries surrounding that so they wouldn’t be left out of anything.”
The only time both Schwab and Tessen aren’t with the team is during the meets when they go to the conditioning area and do strength and conditioning, but they are always with the team during lineups in the beginning and at the end. Marsden said all this gives the team a family feel.
Just when it seemed like the team was done with injuries, sophomore Kari Lee started to have some trouble with one of her ankles. Before the Red Rocks traveled to the NCAA Fayetteville Regional, Lee was practicing her floor routine when she went for the punch of her double tuck, and her right ankle popped.
Lee tried to push through it, and when her body wouldn’t let her she was frustrated because she had just gotten back in all-around. While she reached her goal to get back on floor, it didn’t seem quite fair that it had been taken away from her just like that so fast.
Marsden didn’t know how bad the sprain was until the following week, and while Lee was determined to compete in regionals, Marsden wasn’t going to risk any further damage.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries this year and every team goes through that, but at that split second everyone was worried for me because they wanted me to be okay,” Lee said. “Tom put me in the training room and made sure I could move my foot, but later that night it swelled up.”
Lee has been trying to take it down a notch the past couple of weeks, but as of now, it looks like she’ll only be able to compete on bars at nationals like she did at regionals. Marsden isn’t worried about the injury affecting the team atmosphere though.
“I feel like this team has not allowed the injuries to derail them in any way,” Marsden said. “In fact, it has made the team bond together and become even stronger as a unit.”