I can still vividly remember the high school gym class where I suffered my first, and only, major injury. We were learning to play rugby, a bad idea to begin with, when I took a hit in the back from one of the rougher kids in the school. He fell on my knee and I felt a distinct popping sound, only to find out later that day that I had torn ligaments in my knee.
It was an especially bad time for this particular injury as I had worked my way into the 2nd of 4 tryouts for the Team Ontario fastball team, with a chance to tryout for Team Canada if you made it. I’m under no delusion that I would have made Team Canada but the option was most definitely gone now.
What I remember most about this time was how I started feeling sorry for myself. I stopped rehabbing as hard as I could and spent a lot of time sulking around while my friends and teammates had another championship season. Because they felt bad, I received an invite to the final Team Ontario camp the following year but by that point I had already given up on myself.
I tell this story because last week my daughter broke her arm while training at gymnastics and it felt very similar to my story, with one minor difference. She’s been training 20 hours a week at the gym for the last year and was to have her first competition this coming week, so the timing couldn’t have been worse. We were devastated for her because she works so incredibly hard, as do all the girls, and we weren’t sure how she was going react to not being able to compete. If I’m being completely honest, we were also sad that we wouldn’t get to see all her hard work pay off in competition.
The difference between my story and my daughter’s is the way she has handled everything so far. While there have been a couple moments of frustration at not being able to do something she was used to doing, she has generally been all smiles and remained our happy little warrior. In fact, one week after the break she was back at the gym on her regular schedule, with a modified workload from her coach. We were nervous about letting her go back so soon but she begged and the doctor said it was fine, so we caved.
I have never been more proud of her than when a man approached me at practice on her first day back and asked if that was my daughter out there training with a cast in a sling. When I replied yes, he congratulated me on raising such a tough daughter and it opened my eyes to just how strong she is, both physically and mentally. Her love for this gym and motivation to be great at this sport is something that I carry with me every day.
She may not have gotten this strength from me but I am learning a lot about toughness from watching her, not just through this, but in general with the way she carries herself. She is absolutely a poster child for the fact that strength comes in all sizes.