Stuck on the sidelines: sophomores Allie Byergo and Cameron Chandler battle injuries

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Kelsea Wilson

Cheering on their fellow poms teammates, sophomores Allie Byergo and Cameron Chandler attend a varsity boys basketball game Jan. 8. Because of their injuries, Byergo and Chandler were not able to participate in any dancing. “It’s actually pretty fun to get to go to the games since not a lot of people can right now because of COVID-19,” Byergo said. “Ever since I’ve been injured, even though I haven’t been able to dance, it’s been really good to still be a part of the team and still be able to wear poms clothes and go and represent at games.”

While practicing a dance on the football field, sophomore Cameron Chandler went to do a cartwheel into a split, when she heard a loud pop. Not wanting to believe something serious had occurred, she continued to dance, only to fall to the ground in pain.

For athletes, the thought of having to deal with an injury that stops them from performing the sport they love is not uncommon. Unfortunately, for Chandler and fellow dance team member sophomore Allie Byergo, this thought became a reality. 

After an evaluation from her doctor, Byergo found out she suffers from osteochondritis dissecan, a condition where the bone underneath the cartilage of a joint dies due to lack of blood flow.

“I was in pain for a long time. Things like walking up the stairs and even bending my knees was difficult,” Byergo said. “The whole situation was so discouraging. The idea of having to just sit on the sidelines and watch made me sick.”

I don’t think there are enough words to describe what I feel having to go to practice and games and not be able to participate.”

— Cameron Chandler

After finding the root cause of her nagging pain, Byergo underwent surgery this past November to relieve her discomfort and heal her injured joint. 

“For about two months, I didn’t walk. It was really tough going from being so independent to not being able to do barely anything for myself,” Byergo said. “I already feel a lot better because I was always in so much pain. I was really scared of surgery because I went in blind, not knowing how bad my condition was. Luckily it wasn’t the worst-case scenario so I’m glad that I did get surgery and got fixed.”

Being a dancer on the varsity poms team for two years, Byergo is expected to attend practices and games every day despite not being able to participate. 

“Poms has been a big part of my life for a whole year now, so I couldn’t imagine not going,” Byergo said. “I enjoy spending time with my coach and I enjoy spending time with Cameron because we sit out together, which is fun.”

Being injured has made me realize I’m missing out on so much and that when I am healthy, I have to take advantage of the opportunity in front of me.”

— Allie Byergo

Chandler, another two-year member of the dance team, is in a similar predicament. Having torn her anterior cruciate ligament back in November, she has not been able to dance for months. 

“I don’t think there are enough words to describe what I feel having to go to practice and games and not be able to participate. I still memorize every single dance and my body just wants to do it so bad,” Chandler said. “There are for sure nights I drive home and just cry because I never would have thought that the last night I danced was the last night before I got completely stripped of what I love most.”

In light of their situations, Chandler and Byergo have found comfort in each other, as they are able to sit out together every day.

“I sat out alone for a bit, but [Allie] definitely makes it so much better. I have known her for so many years, but we just have never gotten that close. I think our injuries have allowed us to create a relationship neither one of us ever thought we would have,” Chandler said.

Chandler and Byergo are expected to make full recoveries from their injuries, and both hope to return to dance by the beginning of the next school year. 

“I think that whenever I am able to dance again, I’m going to work a lot harder, and I’m going to be more dedicated,” Byergo said. “Being injured has made me realize I’m missing out on so much and that when I am healthy, I have to take advantage of the opportunity in front of me.”