GYMNASTICS: Emmons rebounds from injury to win MAC award
The Daily News
The final chapter of an inspiring season, and an accomplished career could be coming to a close on Saturday. Fifth-year senior, Brittney Emmons, will represent the Ball State gymnastics team at NCAA Regionals for the fourth and final time.
It will not be the first time she has dealt with a potential end to her career. Emmons suffered a torn Achilles tendon prior to the start of the 2012 gymnastics season.
Then a senior, Emmons was going through her final run in practice for the intra-squad meet. After landing short on a rather routine pass, she knew something was wrong.
“I looked at my foot and saw that my Achilles wasn’t there,” Emmons described her injury.
The raised area of flesh that typically bridges the gap between the calf and the foot becomes non-existent. When the tendon has been torn, the back of the calf — often extremely swollen when injured — flows into the heel, giving the lower leg the appearance of a cylinder.
Emmons decided to undergo surgery to repair her torn Achilles tendon as opposed to strictly rehabilitation. Surgery allows for athletes to recover faster, sometimes cutting recovery time in half.
Though the Achilles tendon is one of the thickest and strongest tendons in the body, it is also one of the most commonly injured. According to The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, injuries to the Achilles tendon affect 18 in 100,000 people.
Soon after the initial surgery she began training for the Miss Ball State Bodybuilding Competition. More time lifting weights and less time in the gymnasium allowed Emmons to get her mind away from the injury.
“I was going to need another surgery [in April] after the body building show to fix a minor complication with the first one, and to clean up my ankle,” Emmons said.
In May, Emmons made the decision to return to the gymnastics team for a fifth season. Her rehab would continue until the middle of July.
Then in August, for the first time in seven months, Emmons was able to begin practicing for gymnastics. But her path to full recovery had just begun.
“I set my expectations very low,” Emmons said. “If I can make it back on bars, then I’m helping this team.”
Emmons was previously an all-around gymnast, meaning she competed in four events. After starting on the bars, she was able to work her way back into the full rotation.
“I had my doubts starting at the beginning of the year, but they slowly fizzled away throughout the season,” she said.
Though Emmons did not post scores quite as impressive as she had previously in her career, this season was still a successful one in her eyes. For the first time in her career, she was named to the All-Mid-American Conference First Team.
Emmons was also named the MAC Senior Gymnast of the Year. This award was especially important to her because her competitors in the conference vote on the award.
“I couldn’t have been more grateful for that because that was all the head coaches that voted,” Emmons said. “To know that they’re the ones that voted for me, it just meant so much.”
Emmons is now focused on the Regional competition at Alabama this Saturday. Her goal remains to compete at the highest level she possibly can.
The top two all-around competitors (who are not on an advancing team) from each regional will receive an automatic berth to the national championships in Los Angeles.
Through her comeback season, Emmons said she has learned to appreciate the little things, and will not lose sight of that regardless of the outcome this weekend.
“I’m surely gonna miss it, but I know when I walk out on that floor at regionals I’m gonna leave nothing behind,” Emmons said. “If I make it to Nationals, that’s just icing on the cake.”
• Five first-place finishes as an all-around performer during the season.
• Three top five finishes on the bars.
• Eight top five finishes on the vault.
• Mid-American Conference Senior Gymnast of the Year for 2013
• All-MAC First Team