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Abshire’s perseverance pays off

Each time senior Eva Abshire took a break from sports, she had to find a new perspective on her life.

Over the years, Abshire sustained four broken fingers, broke her foot twice, had reconstructive elbow surgery, had knee surgery, a concussion and stress fractures in both shins from doing gymnastics and track.

“I learned that your value isn’t in your sports because I placed a lot of my worth in my athletic ability and things like that. And when it’s literally stripped away from you… you learn a lot more about yourself because you’re not so involved in your sport,” Abshire said.

Going through injuries can take a mental and physical toll on an athlete. After Abshire’s elbow reconstruction surgery freshman year, she had to be out for a year from her sports and other physical activities. When she was cleared to compete, she had to relearn the sport of gymnastics and try to catch up to everyone else.

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“One of the hardest parts of injuries was being okay with not being even close [athletically] to where I was supposed to be,” Abshire said. “I think the mental side of it was the hardest.”

Even with going through injury after injury, Abshire had support from her parents. They took her to her appointments, and her coaches encouraged her.

During Abshire’s freshman, sophomore, and most of her junior year, she went to gymnastics practice four hours a day, six days a week. During track season, she practiced an additional hour and a half. This left little time for schoolwork, which caused her to lose essential sleep.

“I was falling asleep in class,” Abshire said. “That’s why I was always injured. Well, that’s my belief of why I was always injured, because my body never had enough time to heal.”

Abshire, who takes four advanced-level classes this year, is ranked in the Top 10 of the senior class.

“She is a very serious person,” said track coach Kim Ackerman, who is also Abshire’s aunt. “She’s focused on school, she wants to be very professional and successful. She has her priorities straight.”

When Abshire started doing gymnastics, it became the love of her life. For 13 years, she showed up with the excitement of learning something new everyday.

“There’s always a new skill to get,” Abshire said. “Flipping is also just so fun – being able to do all these flips all day. One thing I loved about it, I just physically felt strong. Also the community, I mean, I saw my coach more than I saw my parents.”

Abshire added track to her schedule in seventh grade and juggled both until her junior year when she decided to focus on gymnastics. Eventually knee surgery was required.

Since the recovery time for her knee was so long, Abshire did not have time to rehab her knee, return to gymnastics training and be ready for gymnastics season. She instead decided to rehab her knee and return to track, where she is a hurdles specialist.

Ackerman was very excited to see Abshire return to track, and Abshire’s hard work paid off. She won the district title in the 100 and 300 hurdles, while helping the 4×400 relay team win silver.

She advanced to the Area Meet in all three events, while helping lift the team to the District Championship. She will compete again Thursday at Turner Stadium in hopes of qualifying for the Region Meet.

Abshire kept a positive perspective even while struggling to keep up with classes, rehabilitation and a busy training schedule.

“It definitely made me stronger in my faith through my injury because I actually had time to step away and focus on that,” Abshire said. “Realizing that I’m more than my sport, that was the main thing because my sport was my everything.”

This story was originally published on Park Times on April 10, 2024.