Serena Holvenstot

A draft of cool air from outside bursts through the opening door, and lightens my body as it blows past me. I take a deep breath and open my eyes. The long blue tumble track in front of me is intimidating.

Being the cheer team’s only tumbler, and only being a freshman in high school is a lot of pressure. This means that every move I make is being watched by my whole team, it’s nerve racking.

So here I stand, 20 different sets of eyes on me. My hands are sweating. If I wait too long, I will psych myself out, so the only choice I have is to just do it. I close my eyes one last time, crossing my fingers behind my back, praying that I will stick my first round-off back handspring layout on the floor.

“Ready?” asks Coach Amber. With no chance for me to respond, she begins to count me off. “5, 6, 7, 8….”

I start my power hurdle. My hands grasp the ground. The grip of the floor keeps me from slipping. I jump backwards and throw my head back to guide my hands to the ground. As my feet hit the ground, my mind races. The worst thing that you could do during a tumbling pass is to daunt yourself, which is exactly what I happen to be doing. I shut my eyes in hopes that I will get through it and stick my layout somehow. I reach the high point in the air. I am stuck, unable to move or correct myself. I feel frozen in mid air, upside down staring straight at the floor 5 feet below me.

“Serena, oh my god!” screams Maddie Kelly. The pure unease in her voice makes me want to panic, but I am mid-air catatonic.

As I inch towards the ground, I accept whatever is about to happen, although I know it will not be good. Seconds later, my face hits the ground. My body compresses with impact as my feet kick over my head into a scorpion position.

I lay on my stomach, my face still in the carpet. I feel Coach Amber’s hands wrap around my arms. “Oh my god!” she says, clearly panicking as she flips me over. I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m dead.

Thirty seconds go by, and I finally gasp for air. I want to cry, because the pain finally hit me, but all the adrenaline built up in my body just forces me to laugh.

Coach Dustin runs over. “What the hell were you thinking?” he says, with a heated and disappointed but also worrisome tone. I attempt to explain what had just happened, but as I open my mouth to speak, I find that I am breathless and unable to communicate.

I feel coach Dustin’s arms wrapping around my back to lift me. As he carries me, all that I can focus on is the pinching of the bones in my lower back.

The walk over to the foam mats is painful. He gently lowers me, and then leaves to retrieve me an ice pack.

My team gathers around me like I am some sort of celebrity. I automatically tense up, because God knows I don’t like attention.

“Are you okay?”

“What happened Serena? You never do that.”

The sound of 20 voices swarming me with enough questions to make me feel dizzy is aggravating. My face begins to turn red and hot. My vision becomes fuzzy from the tears that I am still attempting to hold back, not because of the pain, but more because of the anxiety that comes with being in the spotlight.

I sit there, not engaging in conversation with my concerned teammates. They eventually pick up on the fact that I don’t want to talk, and I just want some space.

Five minutes until practice is over and my mom shows up. My coach had called her to tell her about the unfortunate circumstance.

She lifts me up off the mats, which of course leads to more cracking and popping, and she takes me out to the car.

As she lays me down on the cushioned back seat of her car, everything that had just happened hits me. I start crying like I have never cried before. It feels good to let it all out, but I can’t seem to catch my breath, and I know for a fact that my back is impaired, and there will be no fixing it.

My mom lifts up the back of my shirt and immediately recoils in disgust, which then is taken over by a wave of bleakness. Without saying a word, she gets in the driver’s seat and begins the drive to the hospital.

My mind is racing. What if I will never be able to cheer again? What if I won’t even be able to walk?

We arrive. The hospital looks down on me in my wheelchair that I am too weak to even muscle by myself, my mom has to assist me. As I inch closer and closer to the automatic doors that lead me to my fate, I become more high-strung.

I am wheeled into a small room where my x-rays are taken.

Days pass before I get my results. There is nothing that I can possibly do that will take my mind off of it.

My mom gets a call. “Hello, this call is regarding Serena Holvenstot’s x-rays”…. My heart sinks and my hands begin to sweat. I can barely hear the phone considering my heart is basically pounding out of my chest.

“Her back is broken!”

This is the first time that I have ever seen into my future in a way that does not excite me. I know that I will never be able to tumble the way that I had done before, but all that I can do now, is make peace with the idea.