“The way she grabbed her leg, I knew immediately what had happened,” Michigan gymnastics coach Bev Plocki said. “I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I had a flash of denial. I thought that this couldn’t have happened right now. She is going to roll over and get up and everything is going to be OK. And very quickly, I realized that wasn’t the case.”
Jan. 12, 2007.
Morgantown, West Virginia.
The Wolverines, James Madison and the host Mountaineers squared off in Michigan’s first meet of the season.
And it was the day senior Lindsey Bruck’s 18-year gymnastics career changed forever.
The two-time All-American was cruising. She had scored 9.900 on the uneven bars and 9.875 on the balance beam.
Then it happened.
On the second tumbling pass on the floor exercise, Bruck attempted a round-off back-handspring double-pike.
The attempt fell short, and so did Bruck. She landed on her hands and knees and quickly grasped her left leg in excruciating pain.
Bruck had a ruptured Achilles tendon and was lost for the season.
“Everybody gasped,” Plocki said. “She was the bright star of our team this year. She worked so hard over the summer and improved her skill on every event. This situation absolutely breaks my heart, because she is in a situation that there’s a possibility that she wont be able to come back and finish her career.”
Said Bruck: “I was devastated. It’s my senior year and gymnastics has been a love of mine since I was three-years-old. But I’m just not quite ready to give it up yet.”
Any fan would have no hesitation to say Bruck is the loudest cheerleader the Wolverines have, constantly giving advice and keeping the team fired up throughout the entire meet.
“My job is to help them do the best that they can this year,” Bruck said. “I knew my role as a leader was going to change when it happened, but I still wanted to lead the team the best way I could.”
Michigan (2-2 Big Ten, 10-3 overall) is ranked No. 12 in the country, and a large part of that is due to Bruck’s continued leadership after her injury.
Bruck and Plocki are very close and can be seen talking numerous times throughout a meet, and Plocki finds no shortness of words to describe the 2006 NCAA Northeast Region Gymnast of the Year.
“She had the commitment, talent, love and is a very good student. She was the whole package.”
The Marietta, N.Y, native has taken huge strides in her rehab and hopes to stop having to use crutches soon.
Even though Plocki is doing everything she can to give Bruck an opportunity to compete next year, all of the team’s scholarships are taken up for next season, and Bruck’s gymnastics career is likely over.
But right now, Bruck is focusing on one thing.
“I just try to look ahead,” Bruck said. “I take my mind off myself and my injury and put it onto the team.”