BRHS Gymnast Finds Tougher Challenges Than Those on the Mat

Credits: Grace Palfreyman and Melissa Lamparello
Credits: Grace Palfreyman and Melissa Lamparello

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Those wandering into the Bridgewater-Raritan High School mini gym after school would stumble upon a hardworking group of gymnasts, tumbling up and down the mats, around the bars, across the beam and running to the vault.

But sitting on the sidelines is one exceptional student doing her own personalized workout.  This girl is Abby Hoffner, the BRHS Athlete of the Week for the week of Sept. 9.

Hoffner plays an exceptionally different role on the gymnastics team because she is unable to compete right now. Instead, she is slowly recovering from a tear in her ACL and meniscus. The ACL is a major ligament in the knee that is needed for walking properly on a day-to-day basis.

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Many athletes wind up limited in sports participation due to this serious injury. Unfortunately, a torn ACL is very common in gymnastics especially, and is the result of alternating movements quickly. Hoffner tore her ACL while recently performing a challenging dismount, a front full, off the beam.

Hoffner has been working to overcome the challenges she faces during this healing time.

“Abby is both physically and mentally tough, therefore I do not see her injury affecting her confidence,” said BRHS gymnastics coach Julie Zaneto.

Zaneto said Abby deserved to be named Athlete of the Week.

“She has been such a great example to the rest of the team,” she said. “It's that self-discipline, drive and work ethic pre and post injury that resulted in the decision to award Abby with Athlete of the Week.”

Although Hoffner cannot perform right now, she continues to practice most days and stretch with the team, as well as do core work to keep in shape.

On Sept. 26, Hoffner’s surgery was successful. Although she was in a lot of pain, she said everything is expected to heal properly and she will make a full, normal recovery. Hoffner continues to stay positive while she waits for her nine months of recovery time to pass. Shortly after her procedure, some of her teammates visited her and brought her sweets to help make her feel better. 

Hoffner is an inspiration to all athletes, and anyone facing an injury involving surgery. She is proof that no obstacle is too big to overcome, and with determination you can achieve whatever you set your mind to.

 “I do gymnastics because I love defying gravity and the feeling of accomplishment and getting new skills and having friends that will support me no matter what,” she said.

Hoffner will be back in the gym where she belongs as soon as she is healed, working on fulfilling that skill that injured her in the first place because she refuses to give up.

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