Feb. 12, 2015
Bri Guy is happy to be performing again with Auburn gymnastics
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Everybody told Bri Guy to take it slow. You don't rush back from two blown Achilles, not in the every-day world, and certainly not in gymnastics.
A year later, Bri Guy smiles at the people who didn't know how determined she could be, who didn't know she wasn't going to take no for answer.
"I'm a little difficult," she admits.
Guy, the Auburn gymnast who tore both Achilles on a floor routine last year, will be celebrating her continued return to her sport when the No. 9 Tigers face No. 2 LSU in Auburn Arena at 7 p.m. Friday in Auburn Arena.
She has been performing in the bars, beam and vault. It's been a remarkable comeback, at least to the untrained eye, or to the people who don't know Bri Guy, the athlete who had both Achilles snap on the same move.
"I have never heard of it, and the doctors we worked with hadn't heard of it, either," said Auburn trainer Janet Taylor.
Guy scooted about after the injury, in a wheelchair for seven weeks and then crutches (which she may or may not have mostly just carried around) and then was in walking boots after that. All the while, she plotted her comeback.
"I really had no doubt about it because she has such a determined personality," Taylor said.
It was last Feb. 14 and Auburn was scoring well against Alabama. Guy, near the end of the meet, launched herself on the floor routine.
"In my head, this was going to be the best double-half ever, I was going to stick it. I stuck it... on my head, though."
Guy landed head first and the medical staff rushed to her aid. But the real problem was her Achilles. Both of them.
A hush fell over the crowd as Guy hit the floor.
"I didn't feel anything. I was like 'OK, let's keep going,'" Guy said.
The medical and training staff had other ideas.
"When I was laying on the ground, they were like 'don't move' and I was like 'don't worry, I'm not going anywhere.' It was more of a burning in my ankles than anything in the calf or the Achilles area. So, I was 'oh, I just sprained both my ankles on takeoff' because that happens.
"But there was more to it, I guess."
A week later, Guy was back in Auburn Arena, on wheels, urging her teammates on against Georgia, already thinking about how to get back into things. The doctors, Guy said of the torn Achilles, "said that it would probably take a lot longer for two than it was for one. For one, it's about six to eight months, so they were thinking a little over a year. I don't think they had any idea of me doing anything remotely close to what ''I'm doing right now at this time. They thought, 'it's February, maybe she'll start doing one or two events,' not 'she's going full speed on three events, trying to do a fourth,' so it's crazy."
A tweet from a year ago...
Guy's comeback started quickly.
"As soon as that two-week period after surgery was over where I wasn't allowed to sweat or anything because of my stitches, I was doing hand stands, anything upper body I could do. Nothing too aggressive... handstands, cartwheels. I was still being bridal carried around in my wheelchair. I was doing pull ups on the beam, small cartwheels on the beam."
Auburn coach Jeff Graba said he was confident Guy would return.
"I think most people can't imagine her competing this soon," he said. "I remember talking with her and just knowing her, I thought she was capable of coming back."
Auburn opened this season at North Carolina. The plan was to ease Guy back in, holding her to bars and beam.
"We were just supposed to warm up at UNC, but we ended up competing her. It's not surprising with this kid," Graba said. "I knew it just took determination, work ethic and good doctors and good trainers. We have the good doctors. We have the good trainer. It just became an issue for how hard she wanted to work and that was a non-question."
As if there was any doubt.
"Initially when I got the surgery, they were 'you need to take it slow, you need to listen to everybody and don't do anything that they tell you not to do. Don't over exert yourself.' In my head I'm, 'OK, senior year, I have this amount of time to get to this point. OK, I hear what you're saying, but I'm doing this.' There was a lot of 'you tore both of your Achilles, you're not going to be able to do that just yet' and me going 'I don't know what you're talking about. I'm fine, I'm going to keep going.'
"They were very surprised at my progress, and again I didn't give myself any other option. I was, 'I'm going to compete this year. I'm going to be in lineups for my team this year.'"
Graba said Guy has been an inspiration.
"That's why we took her on the road last year. We needed her," he said. "She leads in so many different ways. I think the best thing it's done for this team is our six freshman get to see what real work ethic is, what real determination is right away. They all knew Bri when she got injured and felt the frustration and horror that came with that injury. Then to come in and see how hard she was working and how hard it is to push to get back into lineups. She was fighting them for lineup spots. Nothing fires you up more than your teammate fighting you for a spot in lineups. Then again, this girl is coming back from a double Achilles tear."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: