My name is Grace Broadhurst and I was a competitive gymnast from the time I was 8 until I graduated from college in 2019. I had my first knee injury when I was a sophomore in high school. I was at a competition and took a bad landing on my beam dismount causing my right ACL to tear. Typically, with gymnastics, your sophomore year is an important recruiting year. This is the time where you see girls verbally committing to a scholarships for college. I was devastated. After my reconstruction surgery I was able to fully recover without any major mishaps. It took a lot of time, but I was able to get back to fully competing at a high level in my senior year. I was incredibly fortunate that things worked out for the best, and I was able to commit to the University of Denver with two years on scholarship.
I was so excited to start my journey as a collegiate athlete. My freshman year was fantastic, and I had a blast traveling and competing with my team. Right before our post season championships started, I felt my right knee pop when I was practicing. I immediately knew something was wrong. The screw that was anchoring my hamstring ACL graft had popped out of the tunnel in my bone, and tore my meniscus while doing so. It was a pretty bad tear that had to surgically repaired and took me a couple of months to recover from. This cut my competitive season short and limited a good portion of my off season training.
Once I had recovered from my minor procedure, I was back full force training with the hope of competing in the all-around for my sophomore season. Everything was going well, I was making all the competitive line-ups in our practice meets and making great progress. The season for collegiate gymnastics starts in the beginning of January, and every year we host a practice meet for the public to come watch right before Christmas. It was during the final training day before the practice meet that I missed a skill on floor and tore my left ACL. As soon as it happened I immediately knew I had torn it, but the MRI showed I also did major damage to both my medial and lateral meniscus. This sidelined me for the entirety of my sophomore competitive season.
I had my reconstructive surgery in January and had to return for a second clean up of my medial meniscus the following August. To make matters worse, once I was cleared to start doing gymnastics again, I re-tore my medial meniscus just jumping on the floor. I had that surgically repaired in December of the same year. That was three surgeries in one year and four surgeries in two years! This caused me to miss my junior competitive season as well.
I almost quit. I was so close to choosing to stop gymnastics and enjoy my senior year injury free as a student manager. But, I knew I wasn't done and if I didn't at least try to come back and get healthy I would regret it. So, for my senior season I was only allowed to train and compete bars as my athletic trainer wanted to minimize my chances of getting injured. And it worked! I was able to fully recover and compete in my final season! We qualified to the NCAA final four the first time in program history and ended the season ranked 4th in the country!
From my five surgeries, I have nine scars between my knees. Five of which have been opened more than once. My collegiate career may not have gone exactly how I thought it would, but I am forever grateful for what I learned from being an injured athlete.
I absolutely love what you guys are doing, and I believe that having a community like this is something I would have extremely benefited from going through my recovery!