Training Room After Three Knee Surgeries, Carol Chang Makes Return to Gymnastics By Herb Benenson
ot many student-athletes can say, at the ripe old age of 22, that they’ve had to come out of retirement just to complete their collegiate career. It’s a path gymnast Carol Chang never expected to follow.
Three surgeries to an uncooperative left knee before the end of her sophomore season in Berkeley initially convinced Chang to give up the sport. But the lure of Rachelle Comeau the gym proved too great a force, and now the fourth-year senior has evolved into a key contributor to the Golden Bears’ success. Rising through the ranks from elementary through high school at Airborne Gymnastics out of Santa Clara, Chang earned the attention of college recruiters and was considering a long list of schools to pursue her academic and gymnastics careers. In March of her junior year in high school, she was all prepared to 30
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commit to Cal when her knee suddenly gave out and required surgery for a torn ACL and meniscus. The timing couldn’t have been worse. “I was pretty upset because I thought no colleges are going to want me,” Chang said. Undeterred, Chang set out to earn a collegiate spot and worked hard in the gym and in the training room throughout her senior year to be able to compete again. Although no scholarship awaited her in the end, she did secure a place on the Golden Bear roster as a walk-on, and Chang was more than happy to be able to join new teammates in Berkeley. But soon after, Chang reinjured her knee and again underwent a procedure to repair a torn ACL and meniscus. The long months of rehab, a schedule she knew all too well, meant she would not
be able to compete as a college freshman in 2010. All seemed to be progressing nicely into the fall, and with her routines rounding back into shape, Chang appeared on track to be able to make her Golden Bear debut for the 2011 season. Then just one month before the campaign, she tore her meniscus for the third time. “I was going to stick around and just help out,” Chang said. “But I decided to quit the team because I figured it was a sign I should probably stop and do something else.” Something else did not mean leaving Cal gymnastics altogether. Instead, Chang, a biology major who aspires to become an orthopedic surgeon, used the opportunity to get a first-hand look at sports medicine as a student athletic trainer for the team. “I was still in the gym every day, but I was playing a different role,” Chang said. To acquire her sports medicine Continued from page 30
The 2012-2013 Winter issue of Cal Sports Quarterly