It will be a year in June since my second surgery on my knee, my first being in January of the same year. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about that devastating occurrence in my life. One that has truly changed my life – not necessarily for the better……but then again they do say that “things happen for a reason.” While the whole events surrounding the injury have not been easy, they have certainly placed a positive spin on things for me. I am indeed a better person for enduring what I have been through. Questions cross my mind such as will I be at the same level I was prior to the injury? Will I be able to complete without worrying about hurting myself again? Will I have limitations? Will I have the confidence to rise above this? So many questions and so much doubt have entered my head.
Unlike other sports, gymnastics is not an easy sport to transition into following an ACL injury. The pounding and abuse the body takes is like no other. The mind is a powerful tool, and I have learned to utilize it to help me get through this ordeal. I realize the importance of rehab, conditioning and practicing daily to achieve desired outcomes. First and foremost, it is paramount to cut off the doubt fast and refocus on the positives that will help me perform. When in doubt, I know my confidence is affected, so telling myself that I can and will nail it and visualizing myself doing all these things really helps to put things in perspective. I try to create in my mind what skills I want to do and then work to bring them into physical existence.
Proper conditioning is a vital and driving force in my recovery, and I enjoy varying degrees of conditioning so I am always eager to approach Chris Cooper for innovative and helpful tips. Strength is also key and helps to raise my confidence while motivating me to work through the sometimes unavoidable physical pain.
Prior to a competition, I like to set positive goals for each event to help me focus on what I want to achieve instead of worrying about what could go wrong. I totally involve myself in achieving those goals by staying focused and committed to the game. I find it helpful to putaside the idea that others are watching or evaluating my performance. Regardless of how often I compete, there is always that element of fear. However, I like to imagine that fear is a normal reaction and that every one experiences it to some degree. To alleviate my fear, I like to envision something comical like my mom trying to do a balancing act on the beam. (It is definitely a lot harder than it looks. Gymnasts make it look easy).
While everyone deserves a second chance, not everyone is as fortunate as I have been to get one. While overcoming obstacles, I have had tremendous support from family, teachers, coaches, therapists and mentors. It is indeed a privilege to have had these wonderful people in my life, particularly Chris Cooper (personal trainer @ Catalyst) and Lisa Proctor (gym coach) whose guidance has been immeasurable.
I look forward to training through the summer and next year at Twistars Gym in Lansing,Michigan, where it is my hope to take my gymnastics to another level. My personal mission statement is to obtain a gymnastics scholarship and to continue to participate in the sport for as long as I am able to.- Shelby MacDonald