Abby Cumings views her injury as a way to reach new opportunities


After competing in gymnastics since the young age of five, freshman Abby Cumings has retired her gymnastics career due to an intense shoulder injury from her highly competitive years as a gymnast. While her career as a gymnast was forced to come to an end, Abby is looking at the experience as an opportunity to try new activities and hobbies that she was held back from for so many years. 

At four years old, Abby was placed into a ballet class, but she was in search of an activity more energetic than that of dance. After trying out gymnastics, Abby fell in love with the sport and everything it could offer her. 

“I think I stuck with gymnastics because I found my home in the gym,” Abby said. “The people I met became more my family than my real family themselves. I spent more hours at the gym than at my home, and I found a sport that I loved and could really engage in.”

For years, Abby traveled from gym to gym in search of the perfect fit to allow her to progress as far as possible. From the Grand Rapids Gymnastics team to her final team called Lansing’s Twistars, Abby committed hours on end to pursuing her new-found passion. 

As gymnastics is an extremely physically demanding sport, Abby’s body soon began to resist the hard work she performed every day. Due to the great overuse of her shoulder as a gymnast, Abby’s growth plate fractured in her left arm, and she suddenly found herself in need of an intense surgery to repair the damage. What she thought was simply a surgery for a torn labrum turned into much more. 

“When the doctors got inside, they found that my labrum was not torn,” Abby said. “It turns out I just had a weird anatomy in my shoulder. Instead, the doctors did a total cleaning of the inside of my shoulder. I had a lot of bursitis and loose tissue that they needed to scrape out.”

Recovery proved to be the most difficult part of Abby’s injury. The inability to participate in the sport she always loved took its toll on her as the days of practice went by. 

“The most difficult part about dealing with my injury was definitely having to watch my teammates at gymnastics progress into the next levels while I sat back and watched,” Abby said. “It was hard to sit there and know that I wouldn’t be competing that season.”

After sitting out of gymnastics for a season, Abby made the difficult decision to end her career as a gymnast. 

Although she loved the sport, Abby’s injury prevented her from participating to the best of her ability, and the long hours spent driving to practicing and working in the gym did not allow Abby to experience everything she wished to try before the end of her high school years. 

“I hope to try new sports, like track, and other school activities, such as theater,” Abby said. “I’d also like to try some new classes in high school. Gymnastics prevented me from having a last hour in middle school and high school because I had to drive to Lansing, so I am excited to get engaged in more classes.” 

I missed many parties and sleepovers from gymnastics, but the things I learned and people I met made everything worth it.”

Quitting gymnastics has already allowed Abby to have several new experiences that she has never been a part of before. Abby has landed herself a spot on the stage crew for the play The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and she is a new member of the track team. 

As these new activities begin, Abby is excited to witness everything they have to offer. Although her new hobbies may not entail 25 grueling hours of practice each week, she is thankful for the lessons gymnastics has taught her as they will help her succeed in the future.

My coaches at Twistars have shown me that gymnastics isn’t just about being a good teammate but also about being a good person,” Abby said. “They would give us an inspirational quote each practice that related to both gymnastics and life so that we could become better at both.”

The rigorous schedule she followed for so many years certainly had its ups and downs, but the lessons Abby learned as a gymnast made the practice and commitment worth it in the end. Hard work, accountability, and confidence are just a few of the traits that shine through Abby’s personality, and they are all reflections of the years spent in the gym. 

“My rigorous practice schedule quickly helped me to realize that I needed to be dedicated but that this was not the sport for me,” Abby said. “I missed many parties and sleepovers from gymnastics, but the things I learned and people I met made everything worth it.”