Photo Courtesy of Tracie Salmon
She’d been running down the vault runway for years, never thinking this one time might be her last. Despite the pains in her foot she has suffered for the past few weeks to train this event, she wanted to compete at the NCAA Championships, not only for herself, but for her team. Nagging injuries had a constant presence in her life, and she didn’t think this pain was any different, until a few months later.
As a talented all-around competitor her Freshman year at Louisiana State University, Sarie Morrison was devastated to have to give up three events her next season as a Tiger because of troublesome ankle injuries. The next year she trained only the Uneven Bars, until she decided she wanted to compete Vault at the Championships. After that, her foot pain only got worse, and nothing could’ve prepared her for what she was about to experience.
CL sat down with Morrison to learn about her bravery in overcoming what doctors’ thought might be impossible for her to ever do again.
Photo courtesy of Tracie Salmon
College Lifestyles: What was it like competing as a Tiger in the all-around your freshman year?
Sarie Morrison: It was exciting and something I was use to coming right out of club. I felt honored I was able to help the team in all 4 events.
CL: How did it emotionally affect you your Sophomore year when you weren’t able to do all four events?
SM: It was really a sad thing for me, because I love competing in the all around. I had to take a step back and realize I physically couldn’t do it anymore. And I think that was the hardest part for me, to know my body wasn’t able to do it.
CL: Give us a brief history of all your surgeries you’ve gone through throughout your gymnastics career?
SM: I had knee surgery my junior year of high school, I tore my meniscus. That same year I had ankle reconstruction in my left foot. (That’s where all the problems started.) That took about 8 months to heal. Eleven months after the first ankle surgery, I had another one on my left ankle because I had a huge bone spur that wouldn’t allow me to walk. I had to have it scoped a year later. Then after my freshman season at LSU I had ankle surgery on my right ankle from over compensating too much for my left one. The beginning of my sophomore season I had an ankle scope to remove a lesion that made it impossible for me to do anything other than bars. Then right after my sophomore season I broke my navicular bone in my left foot and had to get two screws put in it.
CL: Why did you choose to train Vault to compete at NCAA’s even though you were in a lot of pain?
SM: In the back of my mind I was so worried I might never be able to vault again. Vault is one of my favorite events and I really love competing it, and I feel like I’m good at it. I just got so scared that season only doing bars, knowing I might only get to do bars the rest of my career. I couldn’t live without knowing I gave it my all and I went for it one more time. In gymnastics you just never know. Tomorrow could be your last day.
CL: After last years gymnastics season, you went to the doctor for them to check out your foot. What did they tell you?
SM: I knew in the back of my mind I had done something bad. I could just feel it. He looked at me and said, “ Well, you cracked your navicular bone in half. This isn’t something that can heal its self because there is no blood flow to this bone. You either stop doing gymnastics or we can try to heal it with putting two screws in it.” There was no way to know if it would heal and allow me to do gymnastics again unless I tried. He said, “you pushed it too hard Sarie, you should have stopped when you first noticed it.” It was hard for me to tell if the pain was just from all the other surgeries at first or if I really hurt it. But, I also pushed to be able to compete vault one last time.
CL: How did you take the news?
SM: I was fine at first when I was in the doctors office. I took the news, shook his hand and set up a surgery date. As soon as I got in the car I absolutely lost it. The first thing I cried to my dad about was why does this keep happening to me and I can’t believe I am about to have my sixth surgery. The second thing was what if I do all of this and I still cant do gymnastics anymore. It was a hard pill for me to swallow, but the only way I had hope was by doing the surgery.
CL: Did you ever think that you should just throw in the towel and quit gymnastics because of all your injuries?
SM: Of course. That popped into my head every time a doctor told me I had to have another surgery. When do you give up, you know? How long can you really keep this up. But what’s made me stronger is the fact that I haven’t given up, I make it through every time.
CL: How did you react when the doctor said you might not ever be able to tumble again?
SM: To this day I still feel pain around that comment. When someone tells you, you can’t do something you love anymore, that’s hard. Yes I am able to vault maybe two to three times a week, but I still cant tumble. Even vaulting that little a week still takes a toll on my foot. So far the doctors have been right about that statement, it’s to much pressure on my foot. But I still hope my senior year I’m able to tumble again. Even if I’m not “floor routine ready” or able to get in the line up, I would love to be able to do it again.
CL: How did you cope with hearing this devastating news?
SM: To know if all things went wrong, I still had hope that I would at least be able to compete bars. And that is my favorite event. Even though I would be devastated, I wouldn’t have to be done with gymnastics completely.
CL: How are you doing this season, despite all the things that you’ve gone through in the past year?
SM: I’m feeling pretty good this season. My foot is holding up and that’s all I can ask for. Of course it could be better, but for where I have been I’m happy to be able to at least compete two events this year. Its been a blessing so far.
CL: How are you trying to stay healthy to complete your gymnastics career at LSU?
SM: I have to do low numbers. The times I do pound my foot have to be quick. Some people might not understand why I only take one turn or don’t do as many reps as other people on the team, but my foot is holding on by the two screws, its very fragile. I have to continue to build muscle to keep my foot strong. Ice is my best friend.
CL: What advice would you give to someone who is going through a tough time in their college life?
SM: Don’t let someone tell you that you cant do something. Even if it seems impossible, if you want it you can get it. And not to give up. There are so many times when I wanted to give up, but I wouldn’t have been as happy if I did. Stick with the things you love, because one day you might not be able to have the things you love anymore. Lastly, it’s important to do what makes you happy. Don’t try to make other people happy. You always have to be you.
Photo Courtesy of Tracie Salmon
Morrison demonstrates the strength and bravery all classy women need to obtain in order to get through tough situations. She has become an inspiration to her team, family and closest friends. Even though the odds were against her, she proved everyone wrong by having a positive attitude and never giving up. We can all take Morrison’s inspiring story and incorporate it into our daily co-ed life.
Photo Courtesy of Tracie Salmon