Brooklyn Stobbe’s gymnastics season came to an abrupt halt due to COVID-19 restrictions just as it was beginning.
The dynamic Crofton athlete, a Grade 9 student at Chemainus Secondary School when it was in session who turns 15 on June 9, had her first competition – a trial for the Canadian Westerns – scheduled March 13.
Stobbe had a couple of competitions earlier in the new year, but wasn’t able to attend after breaking her big toe a few days before the season opener that kept her laid up for six weeks.
She had done very little training while waiting for it to heal and then just as she was going to attend the Western Trials, the province was shut down.
Stobbe’s hopes weren’t especially high for qualifying since she couldn’t train properly and she was technically not quite fully healed, but she was determined to still give it her best shot.
Stobbe thinks the training she did that last week just before the March 13 competition had her almost back to where she left off weeks earlier. She was actually quite hopeful, as was her coach.
Stobbe recovered with record speed, but it was not meant to be. She was especially excited about returning after missing competitions last year with a hamstring injury that occurred in the same time frame during training just before the season started.
“Before the lockdown in B.C. my hamstring was feeling close to 100 per cent better and my toe was good enough to train on but not healed completely,” Stobbe noted. “To prevent my hamstring injury from coming back I will go to physio for maintenance checkups and get my pelvis realigned if I need to because alignment issues are part of what caused pain in the first place. For my toe, I’ll just have to be more careful and be aware of what I’m doing to avoid injuring it again.”
Stobbe had just advanced to JO level 9 when her hamstring injury occurred and prevented her from competing at any level for the remainder of the 2019 season.
She continued to attend training and regular physiotherapy treatments at a reduced intensity through the summer and into the fall when she could perform all Level 9 skill sets again. Through the fall and into winter of the 2020 season her training went better than expected.
Stobbe’s coach was so impressed she was considering advancing her to level 10 for the 2020 season if everything went well at the first competition of the season as a Level 9.
Things were humming along in the new year with training and skills and she registered for all the competitions for 2020 and had everything lined up. A week before the Winterfest Competition in Coquitlam, during the last 15 minutes of routine training, Stobbe fell off the balance beam and that’s when she fractured the phalanx in her big toe.
The toe is rather important in gymnastics so it was a devastating injury at the most crucial time. Stobbe was told not to bear any weight on it for at least 6-8 weeks and had to wear an air cast at school and at training.
Training was even more limited than her previous injury. She kept her conditioning up, but couldn’t do much for each event. About the only apparatus she could do was bars that improved dramatically while waiting for the toe to heal.
She hadn’t quite gotten through her recommended eight weeks of healing when it was decided to give the Western Canadian Trials a go at Twisters in Abbotsford March 14.
If she qualified, Stobbe would be competing for Team BC as a Level 9. The broken toe delayed the plan to compete as a Level 10 until later in the season.
She never got a chance when everything was shut down two days before the trials – temporarily at first and then indefinitely.
“I’m definitely disappointed that I wasn’t able to compete for a second season, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that competitions will be back on next season even if they’ll look a little different,” she indicated.
With the closure of gyms in the province, it’s been up to each gymnast to keep their skills and conditioning up the best they could on their own.
“I set the garage up with some basic equipment,” dad Vince noted. “At her level she needs spotting by coaches and all of the equipment. But everybody is in the same situation. We don’t know what the future holds at this point. We don’t know if training and the gyms will reopen this summer and, if they do, will the competitions continue where they left off?
“We are all waiting with bated breath but we all know safety first and sport is secondary. But she still can’t wait for the day when training resumes.”
“The downtime has set back my skill development lots because it’s very easy to lose skills in gymnastics,” noted Brooklyn. “Even after having one or two weeks off, it takes another couple of weeks to get back to where you were. Since I joined gymnastics in 2013, this is the longest I’ve been out of the gym so I don’t know how long it will take to get back to where I was before, but I know everyone is in the same boat. Mentally, the sudden drop of activity has made me anxious to get out and do something.”