Source: Sherman Publications

Athlete of the Week
Gymnast bounces back from bad break

by Wendi Reardon

April 03, 2013

When Sydney VanBuskirk of Clarkston was told by longtime instructors she was at the end of the line in gymnastics, she believed it.

"I believed them because I was with them for so long,” she frowned. “I believed what they had to say about me and to me. I just wanted to give up.”

But her parents, Rick and Valerie, wouldn't let her.

“My wife was telling me this and she was struggling on the beam,” said Rick, who was deployed to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army at the time. “I said she has two state championships in the beam – that’s not Sydney. We were bound and determined. Sydney was not done with gymnastics.”

Sydney tried out for a nwe gymnastics team, at AGA Gymnastics in Grand Blanc. That's where Coach Julie Fair noticed she was favoring one arm. Fair suggested Sydney to go to an orthopedic surgeon to check it out.

They found out her growth plate was separated about half an inch causing pain and difficulties she was having.

“They called it little leaguers arm,” said Sydney. “If I would have done a ton more hand springs, which is a ton more hard pressure on your arms, and no one else would have noticed, my whole arm could have shattered. I'm happy they caught it.”

Sydney was in physical therapy and gave it eight weeks to heal and connect. She was cleared and excited to get back to practicing.

“I can do this now,” she smiled, after receiving the news she was cleared. “No one was going to stop me.”

She noticed the change in her arm and performance immediately.

“It was easier to perform and give my best without pain,” she said. “It made a difference to my gymnastics overall because I was healed.”

She finished her gymnast season with two state titles for Level 7 in the 2013 Michigan Level 7-10 State Meet, March 24. She won the All-Around state title with a 37.850 score and the floor exercise with a score of 9.725.

“I knew I nailed it because the moment I heard my music I said this floor routine is going to be mine,” she admitted. “I just put more power into it.”

She also placed second on the bars with a 9.50, second on the vault with a 9.475, and eighth on the beam 9.150.

“I was happy,” VanBuskirk smiled. “I was happy I got to share the moment with my new team because they were so supportive of me. I knew they were proud. I was really happy my parents and my grandparents were there. I looked out and saw them all crying with joy.”

“She worked really hard through a year and was able to perfect everything she was told she wouldn’t be able to do,” Rick added.

Sydney added the support from her parents really helped her out and inspired her to keep going.

“I was happy my parents didn’t let me quit,” she said. “They were such great motivations. They knew this was something I loved to do and I knew it was something they loved watching me do. I took their advice and thought wait a minute this is something I love to do. I can’t be told I can’t do this. I made my attitude really just go for it. With great coaches and support I was able to prove them wrong.”

Her mom put her in gymnastics when she was 3 years old as a way to learn discipline.

“I was little and my dad is in the army and he was deployed overseas at the time,” Sydney added. “She thought, let’s put her in gymnastics because she is always bouncing around. Hopefully she likes it – since then I have loved it. I can’t imagine not doing it.”

Sydney is currently a seventh-grader at Sashabaw Middle School and is training on her new skills for Level 8, the next level. She would like to continue gymnastics in college.

Her advice for aspiring athletes is if told you can’t do it, not to listen.

“You need to think of another way,” she added. “You can - no matter what.”