Paige Johnson became the gymnastics floor state champion after recovering from an injury



A picture of Paige Johnson competing on the beam at one of her many competitions

Sophomore Paige Johnson found herself flying through the air right before she abruptly hit the low bar and face-planted dramatically. 

Paige has been doing gymnastics for eight years, and she has grown up with the sport. Starting out with recreational classes when she was little, Paige has worked her way up to being a state champion.

“I was not serious about [gymnastics] at first,” Paige said. “It was just something to get me doing something and get me moving. But once I grew up a little bit, I started gaining more skills and becoming more connected with my coaches and teammates, and that’s when I realized that [gymnastics] was something I really wanted to pursue in competitions.”

Paige has dedicated many years of her life to the sport of gymnastics, and when you are a part of a competition team like she is, gymnastics becomes your life. Prior to COVID-19, Paige was spending upwards of 12 to 24 hours in the gym each week practicing with her teammates. 

That level of dedication can take a large toll on the body, and sadly, for Paige, that is exactly what happened to her back. With the strenuous work that she put in at the gym, Paige found herself with an injury that would take six months to heal as well as a difficult decision she would have to make.

“[My back injury] happened gradually,” Paige said. “I had really bad pain in my back throughout the year, but I just pushed through. It got worse, so finally, I went to a doctor to get an x-ray, and they told me I broke my back. The injury really pushed me over the edge, and I decided to quit gymnastics.”

After Paige went to tell her teammates about her decision to no longer continue doing gymnastics, they were all extremely supportive. Everyone wanted Paige to do whatever was going to make her happy, and she thought that this was the right decision. 

However, in support of her former team, Paige went to one of their competitions, and watching them compete without her made her realize that she may not have made the right decision after all. 

“I started crying and breaking down to the point where my mom and I had to leave,” Paige said. “It was after that when I realized that I needed to go back to gymnastics because I missed it too much.”

I started crying and breaking down to the point where my mom and I had to leave. It was after that when I realized that I needed to go back to gymnastics because I missed it too much.”

— Paige Johnson

Paige has grown up in a gym, and letting that life go wasn’t something she was prepared to do yet, despite her injury. 

So, after a lot of tedious stretching and physical therapy, Paige was finally physically ready to compete again. However, she was still slightly scared about what impact letting gymnastics back into her life would have on her. 

“I was scared to go back, even though I knew I wanted to, because gymnastics is such a hard sport, both mentally and physically,” Paige said. “I didn’t know if everyone was ready to have me back on the team, but I was relieved when my head coach and teammates continued to accept and support me the same as they always had once I got back.”

Paige has been through a lot in her gymnastics career; she started when she was very young and continued until her body couldn’t handle it anymore, but she pushed through anyway. Now, after winning the title of floor state champion, she has one last thing to say.

“I want to say thank you to the sport of gymnastics,” Paige said, “because I don’t think I would be who I am today without [gymnastics]. It turned into my life, and I think people don’t realize how big of an impact a sport can have on your life until you have been through this much with one sport like I have with gymnastics.”