Albrecht uses traumatic injury to her advantage

February 14, 2018

It was a normal day at the gym; Emma Albrecht was tumbling and flipping in preparation for nationals. She had a little bit of back pain here and there, but brushed it off and focused on the meet ahead. She flipped, and tumbled to the music landing her last pass with a solid bounce. Cheers erupted from the stands as she was tackled with hugs from her teammates. Emma had landed herself in sixth place, a great place for the path that lay ahead.

One morning a few weeks later Emma woke up in excruciating pain. She couldn’t walk, so her mom helped her into the car and drove her to the hospital. At the hospital Emma was placed into a wheelchair the wheels slightly squeaking as they moved across the floor. She was brought into a room with an MRI the lights flashed all around her inside the circular tube she had the taste of worry in her mouth.

After the long hours of testing the doctors approached Emma and told her she had severe scoliosis, a syrinx in her upper thorastic, and a completely broken L5 vertebrae.  There were tears in her eyes as her mind swirled with questions. 

Emma was unable to do gymnastics for six months, and being a nationally ranked gymnast, that gap was unimaginable.

When it broke, it all went downhill. I kinda fell into a hole. I was sad. I was depressed. I couldn’t do anything without pain”

“When it broke, it all went downhill. I kinda fell into a hole. I was sad. I was depressed. I couldn’t do anything without pain,” said Emma.

This was not in her plan at all. She was supposed to move on to level 10 and prep for nationals the next year and do well enough to hopefully commit to a college. This goal made it hard for Emma to realize that gymnastics was getting too much.

“If I keep doing this I am going to have pain for the rest of my life. If I stop now I have a chance of healing and even though I want to do  this it seems like the best decision to stop,” said Emma.

Fall 2016

The fall of her sophomore year, Emma decided to try mountain biking because biking was something that would not affect her back in a negative way.

The minute Emma hopped on her bike she fall in love with it and couldn’t wait to start racing her new competition. She enjoyed the thrill of racing through the trees with a lingering scent of wet leaves in the air, bike grease smeared on her legs, sweat dripping down her face and the muffled sounds of cheers in the distance.

“I fell in love with the sport and it’s not that I lost the love for gymnastics it’s that I gained a love for another sport, ” said Emma.

Emma exceeded in mountain biking very quickly and ended up winning state that same year because she was committed and truly passionate about this new sport.

Joining the Nordic ski team

Later that year, Emma joined the Nordic ski team. Her family is very invested in this sport, and she had the opportunity to try it out and experience it for herself.  Right off the bat Emma was able to ski in the varsity training group and became one of the top seven skiers.  She loved the dynamic of the team and how close the girls were with one another. They always knew how to make practices fun even if the workout for the day was very exhausting.

“It taught me that I am so fortunate to have what I have,” said Emma. 

Today the fiery gymnast still remains, but she uses her fire for something other then sticking her dismount. Emma bikes through the trees on a single track while mud sprays her in the face.  She skis through the woods in -30 degrees, snot dripping from her nose her fiery spirit keeps her core warm and she attacks the upcoming hill in front of her.

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