Stories about: Performing Artist Athlete Program

After competitive dreams end, gymnast finds a new beginning

Plica syndrome
Colby at the beach

Colby Parsons fell in love with gymnastics at age 4. “I loved the communal aspect of my team and the focus on mastery in gymnastics,” recalls Colby, now 19 and a Brown University freshman. As a young boy, Colby dreamed of competing as an all-around gymnast in Nationals. But sometimes life plans don’t go according to plan.

As a young teen, Colby was ranked fifth in Massachusetts, but he was in constant pain. His parents thought his knee pain might be caused by growing pains or an overuse injury. His coach suspected shin splints.

“His pediatrician said, ‘Give it a few weeks. Take a break from gymnastics,’” recalls his mother Nancy.

But kids like Colby really don’t take a break.

Despite the pain, Colby continued to compete and reached the state championships in 2012. During a run to the vault, his knee pain became so intense he couldn’t complete the run.

“He had to scratch. It was devastating,” says Nancy.

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Keeping twin dancers on their toes

Dance-Twins-IIEighteen-year-old twins Sasha and Lise Ramsay are like two peas in a pod. They started dancing at 3, fell in love with ballet by age 6 and will both enter the ballet program at Brigham Young University in the fall. The girls are also mirror-image twins, which means some features, like cowlicks in the hair, are opposite each other.

When Sasha was diagnosed with os trigonum syndrome, a tiny extra bone behind her right heel, at 15, the family expected Lise to follow in her footsteps. And she did. True to mirror-image form, Lise’s os trigonum developed opposite her twin’s—in her left heel.

The syndrome makes dancing difficult, causing ankle pain and preventing the dancer’s toes from fully pointing. “Releves [balancing on the balls of my feet] and turning were really painful,” recalls Lise.

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