Injuries aren’t hard to come by in such a high-impact sport like gymnastics, and the Arizona gymnastics team has unfortunately been bit by the injury bug this season.
It’s one thing to stay down when you are injured, but another to get back up and embrace your injury.
As Chumbawamba put it in their song “Tubthumping,” “I get knocked down. But I get up again. You’re never going to keep me down.”
Senior captain, and team leader, Allie Flores has done just that.
But in order to understand her role in the upcoming postseason for the Arizona Wildcats, you must first recall March 8. Flores was injured on a floor pass in the meet against Texas Women’s University. The injury would not only end her season, but also end her career in an Arizona uniform.
Instead of pouting, Flores remains an intricate piece to the team’s success.
“She still leads our team huddles even on crutches,” Arizona gymnastics head coach Bill Ryden said. “That spirit is infectious, and that’s a lot of what has helped this team overcome so much. I don’t think anyone would have ever guessed that she would have an injury that we would have to overcome, but she’s still as big of a part of this as anything.”
Flores is the competitor who went 38-for-38 this season in competition before her injury without missing a single skill.
Instead of giving up on her team or leaving the program, Flores has only embraced her injury and still remains the leader of her team.
Flores was the first to throw down her crutches and congratulate her teammates after a routine in the Pac-12 Conference tournament. Flores raised her Wildcat plaque above her head with no crutches and stood on one foot during the Senior Day ceremony on March 14. That alone takes serious guts.
“She still wants the team to do well,” Ryden said. “Her competitive spirit is something that the team has fed off and relied on for four years. Even though now she is sidelined and cannot be out there, I still feel she is bringing something to the team’s score.”
Her Arizona teammates haven’t given up on her either. Although she recently had surgery and is currently rehabbing her injury, Flores remains a key piece to the program.
“We’ve been able to fill the positions of people who are unable to compete physically,” Arizona gymnast Shay Fox said. “Mentally, Allie is a huge part of our system. I think it just shows how much we’re really into this and how much heart we have for our program, too.”
Flores was named to the 2015 Pac-12 All-Conference first team, which is comprised of the top six all-around gymnasts in the conference, on Tuesday for the second year in a row. Her career-high for competition is a 39.425.
“In a conference like the Pac-12, being named on the All-Conference team is a huge honor,” Ryden said. “There are so many quality gymnasts in this conference, and it is so competitive. Being given a recognition like this doesn’t happen to just anyone.”
The GymCats have a tough road ahead in their upcoming postseason play. They will compete in Columbus, Ohio, against two of the top teams in the country, Michigan and UCLA, and will do so without Flores.
But she will be there, cheering her team on every step of the way.
After competing in arguably the toughest conference in gymnastics, Arizona is not afraid of any team moving forward in the postseason. With Flores constantly by their side, how could it be?
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