Keith Stone co-editor-in-chief
Very few student-athletes go through senior year with little to no stress having already committed to college for a sport. This usually removes many pressures of senior year and the difficult process of college applications. Senior Tia Lumer gave up this potential easy-in to college to follow her passion for dance and get out of a bad situation.
At her best, Lumer competed in national competitions for gymnastics. She practiced 35 hours every week and devoted most of her life to the sport.
“For as long as I can remember, I have always been a gymnast. I started gymnastics when I was three and continued for 13 years. Even from kindergarten, I would go straight to the gym after school. I would eat lunch on the way and dinner on the way home, and wouldn’t be able to start homework until around nine,” Lumer said. “There were many days when I would only get two or three hours of sleep and still have to go to the gym the next day. My life, as well as my family’s life, revolved around my gymnastics career.”
Although she had close friends at school, her gymnastics team was almost like a second family.
“While my school friends texted about boys, my gym friends and I sat in the splits and talked about the upcoming competition season. We taped each other’s ankles and helped each other conquer our fears. We empathized with each other as we struggled with injuries, exhaustion and the wrath of our coaches,” Lumer said.
However, Lumer did not like all aspects of gymnastics. She found her coaches to be harsh and abusive, and the camaraderie of the team couldn’t make up for the poor treatment she received.
“They would line us up, look up and down our body, and tell us what we had to work on. We constantly were told to eat soup with a fork or salad without dressing. One time, my coach taped a pencil to the back of my leg and every time I bent my leg it would stab me,” Lumer said with a grimace. “It was a form of a torture but it came with the territory of being a competitive gymnast.”
Finally, she was pushed to the brink and her body couldn’t handle it. She felt her coach had pushed her too far and she finally had an inescapable reason to quit.
“Freshman year, I had an injury that changed my life. I was tumbling on floor getting ready for competition season when my coach forced me to do a skill that I knew I couldn’t do safely. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a choice and had to do it. I ended up breaking 5 bones and tearing three ligaments. Even after a year, my foot still wasn’t completely healed. Despite prescription pain medication, several cortisone shots and physical therapy, it was still hard to walk. At the end of the season, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to continue and made the decision to quit,” Lumer said.
Joining Dance Company as a junior was difficult, but gradually Lumer began to adapt and find her groove within the team. She realized that practice would allow her to rise to the level of the other more experienced dancers and she committed herself to her new sport.
“Junior year was the first year without gymnastics. But it was also my first year on Dance Company. The transition from gymnastics to dance was difficult. The hands are different, the feet are different and the turns are different. But I love Dance Company and being able to be more involved at school. Dance was a great transition from gymnastics,” Lumer said.
Lumer’s commitment to Dance Company has impressed other dancers including one of her long-time friends, Shireen Lai.
“I’ve known Tia for 12 years and as long as I can remember, she’s dedicated her life to gymnastics,” Lai said. “But now she’s in Dance Company and she’s a great addition. I’m really lucky to have my best friend share this experience with me in the last few years we have together.”