No Ankle Left Unturned

We were young at the time, having only recently made it to the competitive levels. And at six or seven years old, we completely idolized the older gymnasts on the competitive team. We were new and excited, and looked up to the level nine and ten gymnasts like they were living gods.

But of course, even these seemingly infallible goddesses had their mishaps every so often. This is one of those stories.


We were on bars while the older girls were off on beam working on series and dismounts. I only know this because midway through our workout, the beam coach ran over and whispered something in the head coach’s ear. Apparently, while a high level gymnast named Emma was working on her dismounts (a layout full), one of the rec coaches didn’t see her and moved her landing mat. When she came down on the exposed concrete, her ankle was destroyed. Complete dislocation, even an open fracture, if memory serves.

Our coach was on top of things. He knew he didn’t want a bunch of adolescent girls crowding poor Emma, so he immediately lined us up against the far wall and rushed over to help.

Emma was always tough, not one for words, and she took the injury like a champ. She didn’t cry or say anything, just waited for help to come. She even tried to hide what was left of her ankle from view so as to not scare any of the other gymnasts.

And then there was Melissa, my fellow level five gymnast. Unlike Emma, she was… very much  one for words. Mel was bubbly, eager, and very, very vocal. So, of course she couldn’t help but voice her concerns for Emma as we and the rest of our team waited along the back wall.

The coaches appeared to have everything under control. However, there was one thing they didn’t take into account. You see, from our vantage point, we had full view of Emma’s mangled appendage.

Emma had been so stoic as to avoid making a scene. Well, it was all for naught when Melissa caught a glimpse of the injury. Immediately, she screamed in the the quiet room at the top of her lungs, “OH, MY GOD, EMMA’S FOOT FELL OFF!”

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