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It was December third

It was December third, a normal Monday until it was not-so-normal… I was at regular Monday dance rehearsals; pointe variation, private for thirty minutes, then technique for an hour, and lastly contemporary small group for thirty minutes. My toes were aching after taking off my pointe shoes, so I was excited to go take technique class with no shoes required. After a vigorous stretch, Nicole, my dance teacher, explained that she wanted to make class fun and engaging, while still working on our endurance. It was December third, a normal Monday until it was not-so-normal… I was at regular Monday dance rehearsals; pointe variation, private for thirty minutes, then technique for an hour, and lastly contemporary small group for thirty minutes. My toes were aching after taking off my pointe shoes, so I was excited to go take technique class with no shoes required. After a vigorous stretch, Nicole, my dance teacher, explained that she wanted to make class fun and engaging, while still working on our endurance. “I was thinking we would do a relay race as part of our conditioning today!” Secretly I was thinking of all the things that could go wrong, as I remember past experiences. I just have a bad feeling about this… Something always happens when we do relay races with no sneakers while on a slippery, wood floor. All my other teammates cheered in excitement as Nicole started explaining the contents of the race.Oh great! We have to do acrobatics in this race?! While moving as fast as possible?! I have a bad gut feeling about this… but here goes nothing!I filled my lungs up with oxygen as I waited for Sydney, my teammate, to reach out her hand to tag me to start. As both of our outstretched hands brush up against each other, I can feel our hands were clammy from working so hard. I started to bear crawl to the cone on the other side and hear a laugh on the other end. “Kayla, I have never seen anything like that before!” I hear playful, humorous shouts from the starting side of the studio and many laughs. I did not dare to turn around to look because it would have slowed me down and I could not have been the person to make my team lose. I whip myself around the miniature, purple cone to flip myself over to crab-walk all the way back to the starting side. Done. Then came the part that I dreaded… The cartwheels.I have been landing cartwheels since I was two, but something about doing them in a timed race sounded dangerous to me. Convention and competition season is right around the corner and the last thing I want is to get hurt. I have heard that many athletes get injured by just fooling around.“Go, Kayla! Let’s go! You got it! Perfect pace!” My team shouted, as I made my way down to the other side of the cone. To my surprise, I was cartwheeling faster than my opponent and was leading my team to the victory. Alright, Kayla, you got this! You are leading the team right now and because of you, the team could win! Just whip around this purple cone, and the rest of the race is just easy sprinting… Almost there!As I was finishing my last cartwheel, I had already started thinking ahead to run back to the starting line. I had all my weight in my hands, upside-down, and was not thinking about landing, just getting around the cone. My left foot met the ground and rolled outward, with much force. Rapid fire thoughts and questions raced into my head, overall trying to reassure myself that I was okay was and just thinking of the worst. WHAT just happened? I am okay though, right? I did something like this; landing a back layout-step out in cheer and I was fine. I just need to run back, then I can check out my ankle after I finish the race. As I was trying my best to sprint back to the starting cone, I felt an uneven weight balance. This unevenness started at my hips and continued past my feet. I pushed through the shooting pain to finish. Although, each time I bore weight on my left foot, I felt a shot of pain spike up the outside, top of my foot and up past my ACL. No one had seemed to notice that I was in uncomfortable pain, so I subtly made my walk into the corner of the room and checked myself out, trying to appear nonchalant. Everyone cheered as the last girl from my team had crossed the finish line before the opposing team. My feet stood, stuck to the floor, in the same place as I checked out my foot. The rest of my team cheered in the middle of the room. I had completely tuned them out at the moment: I glanced at Nicole to see if she had noticed. I had a gut feeling that she knew I was “off”. She kept jerking her head over to me and then looking away, as if to not make it obvious. Nicole dismissed the class to get a drink, so I slowly started to make my way across the room to my water bottle. Each step I took, the pain got worse: it felt as though the sharpness was reaching farther up the left side of my body. Nicole approached me, knowing that I was not acting like my normal self. “Kayla, are you okay? You are not okay… What is wrong?” Nicole leaned in my direction, urgently. At this sound, I felt a sudden weakness enter into my body. My face got soft; the smile on my face had immediately faded, and I could feel my eyes welling up with tears. At that moment I knew I had harmed my body in some way: this was not going to be an easy recovery.