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The Current

The Student News Site of Ocean Lakes High School

The Current

The Student News Site of Ocean Lakes High School

The Current

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Gymnast swings through curved barriers

Junior gymnast Maggie Sokalzuk dismounts from the bar, then turns to the judges and showcases her smile on Dec 4, 2023. Photo used with permission from Amberly Zurschmit.

Gymnastics. Competing. Perseverance. One problem: scoliosis.

On Sept. 2, 2021, junior gymnast Maggie Sokalzuk was diagnosed with scoliosis. It was a normal yearly checkup, but the doctor noticed something different this time. 

“No one would tell me what was going on, but I knew it was something that would affect me for the rest of my life,” said Maggie.

Scoliosis is a sideways curve of the spine. Specifically, Maggie has an S-curve, in which the spine curves sideways in an ‘S’ shape to the left.

“Maggie is a consistent reliable teammate,¨ said gymnastics coach Jennifer Ramey. ¨She works hard to be successful despite her hardships.”

To fix her condition, Maggie had to get a life-changing surgery. At first, her doctor was convinced Maggie needed the Harrington Rod surgery, a surgery that fuses a metal rod to the spine to reduce the curve. If Maggie had gotten this surgery, she would have never been able to compete again.

¨I started to feel empty, wondering how can this be the only way,¨ Maggie said. ¨I figured there had to be another way to fix this.¨

Knowing Maggie’s love for gymnastics, her mother searched for a specific surgery that allowed other patients to continue their sport. Eventually, Maggie´s mother found a doctor who could perform Anterior Scoliosis Correction (ASC). A surgery that would not only allow her to continue competing but also would allow her to grow by avoiding permanent damage to her back muscles and disks.

“I was out of school for weeks after the surgery and I could hardly do anything,” said Maggie. “It was 12 weeks after my surgery until my life became normal again.”  

At the beginning of her recovery, Maggie was unsure if she’d ever be able to fully recover because the process was so physically and mentally demanding. Still, as time went on, she persevered and made a full recovery.

“It is amazing how you think there is only one way out of your problem, but actually you just need to try harder to solve it,” said Maggie.

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About the Contributor
Marlie Smith
Marlie Smith, Girls Sports Editor
Marlie Smith is a second-year journalism student and girl's sports editor for The Current. As a multi-sport athlete, she is inspired by any story involving sports. She enjoys playing soccer and hopes to continue her athletics in college. Outside of school, she loves going to the beach, spending time with friends and watching Netflix. In the future, she hopes to become a teacher and inspire other people to write more.

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