Amy Farnum, NCAA.com
Broken glass is not always the easiest thing to put back to its original form, but broken glass that is molded and melded into a different creation can be a whole new beautiful piece of art.
Boise State gymnast Amy Glass knows the feeling of being broken and put back together, and is now enjoying a flourishing career. Early in the 2009 season, Glass was warming up on the uneven bars for a dual meet at San Jose State when her hand slipped and she fell, crashing to the floor.
Trainers attended to Glass, and brought her to the hospital where the doctors diagnosed her with a broken neck.
“The doctor came in and told me that I had fractured my C5 vertebrae and there was subluxation between my C5 and C6, so they were a tiny bit out of alignment,” said Glass. “They were going to have to do surgery to take out the disc and put in a bone strip and a plate and four screws.”
Unsure what the injury meant for her gymnastics career, Glass immediately asked the surgeon if she would be able to return to the sport.
“He said even I was if I was physically able to that I probably shouldn’t and it wouldn’t be a good idea,” said Glass. “He said I should take up swimming and diving.”
Surgery was successful, but Glass had to wear a Halo vest around to immobilize her head and neck for the next 90 days, and had a long road to recovery ahead. Glass left Boise State and returned to Vacaville, Calif., to recuperate at her parents’ home.
When Glass was finally allowed to remove the Halo vest, she returned to Boise to work with her trainer to regain her strength.
“We did rehab about twice a day, five days a week,” said Glass. “It was a lot of work.”
“I think I was most worried that after her doing all of the work and getting out of the Halo vest that the team doctors were not going to clear her,” said co-head coach Tina Bird. “She had her heart set on coming back and I was hoping the doctors would see her progress and let her give it a try.”
Eventually, Glass was cleared by the team physician to return to gymnastics without restrictions.
“In the back of my mind I had doubts, but I’m so stubborn that I was going to do whatever it took to come back to gymnastics,” said Glass. “I think it was really a driving force in me coming back and being successful.”
“I might have been a hesitant at first, but watching Amy come back and her level of dedication and how she prepared herself, I think she was better shape at the completion of her rehab than she was the year she got hurt,” said co-head coach Neil Resnick.
Glass spent the whole preseason trying to play catch-up, while also trying to learn new skills to improve every day. She was ready for the 2010 season to start physically, but still a little nervous to start competing again. In the season-opening Flips Invitational in Reno, Nev., Glass made her incredible comeback even more meaningful by winning the uneven bars (9.825) in her very first meet back from injury.
“I’m not a crier, but as soon as I landed my dismount on that routine, I immediately burst out in tears,” said Glass. “Finishing the routine and being back on the bars was even better than winning the event itself. It was the best moment I’d had in gymnastics in a really long time.”
“It was a pretty fabulous moment and certainly the highlight of my career to watch her actualize her return and then win the event,” said an emotional Resnick.
Glass went on to have a stellar season, claiming the Western Athletic Conference title on the balance beam, and garnering 2010 West Region Athlete of the Year honors. She did not qualify for NCAA Championships, but she did make her way to the event in Gainesville, Fla., last April to watch teammate Hannah Redmon compete on the vault and floor exercise.
“In club gymnastics I was always competing alone, so I know what that feels like,” said Glass. “At a huge meet like nationals, with so many great teams, it is really tough to go with just your coaches and your parents. I wanted to share the experience with her and see what it was about for me as well.”
That experience has undoubtedly motivated Glass for the 2011 season. So far, she has won four all-around titles this season, and ranks sixth nationally with a 39.338 average. Glass was recently selected WAC Gymnast of the Week for the fourth time this year, and ranks second in the nation on the uneven bars with a 9.869 average on the apparatus.
“I watched Amy through the process of cheering her teammate on and making the trip on her own and paying for it by herself just to be with her,” said Resnick. “I thought to myself there’s no way this kid isn’t going to be at nationals next year. It became very obvious this summer that she was going to do everything possible to be at that meet with her team or as an individual.”
Glass, who posted a career-best 39.400 in the all-around against Cal State Fullerton last weekend, says her focus and dedication are much stronger this season after playing catch-up last year.
But Glass isn’t only concerned with getting herself to nationals in April – she knows she does not want to make that trip alone.
“The whole team has our eyes on that top-12,” said Glass. “We really want to make it to nationals this year and we’re working so hard to do that. I think this year is the year and we have a really good team to accomplish that.”
Boise State, currently ranked No. 12 in the nation, heads to San Jose on Feb. 12 for a quad meet with San Jose State, UC Davis and Seattle Pacific.