Amanda Cashman’s season-ending Achilles tear occurred right before Georgia's gymnastics season abruptly ended in March 2020 due to COVID-19.
Consequently, Cashman’s recovery began at home, on FaceTime.
“It had its advantages and disadvantages,” Cashman said in a virtual press conference on Tuesday. “I couldn't be with the trainers here. But yeah, it was like, I could solely focus on my rehab at home. I would say it went both ways.”
Cashman is just one GymDog phasing back into competition amid COVID-19 in 2021. In Georgia’s first meet against Missouri, Cashman only competed on bars. The week after, Cashman added another event to her meet rotation with floor against Florida. In Georgia’s most recent meet with LSU, Cashman competed on bars, floor and vault. Throughout this season, Cashman has been transitioning and has worked back to the three events she competed in 2020.
“I would say it was just like a steady progression back into everything,” Cashman said.
Head coach Courtney Kupets Carter said COVID-19 canceling the 2020 season gave the GymDogs mental and physical rest, yet for those with injuries, she views the situation differently.
Kupets Carter noted that the GymDogs weren’t able to recover their injuries in rehab centers, and couldn’t enter gyms to get their strength back. Kupets Carter thinks that COVID-19 pushed the injured GymDogs back.
In addition to Cashman, juniors Mikayla Magee and Rachael Lukacs have been in similar positions regarding recovering from injuries during a season amid a pandemic.
“That's what we found with Cashman and then Lukacs,'' Kupets Carter said. “Not having done all that training and then getting an injury, she didn't have that fall training that she typically would have had. … I actually think it pushed them back a little bit more. It didn’t actually help them.”
Kupets Carter continued and said she can always find a positive in any situation with a negative tone. Her positive: Since fall training, COVID-19 led the GymDogs to prepare to step up and compete at any time.
“That was purposeful for COVID,” Kupets Carter said. “Now it helps us with some injuries, though, because these athletes were ready. … They could not count themselves out.”
Despite posing the difficult task of recovering from injuries, COVID-19 has also affected the GymDogs in a positive way. Kupets Carter said everybody continues to prepare themselves because they could go in at any moment.
“Whether they're eighth in the lineup right now or sixth in the lineup, they all have to be prepared because we don't know what will happen … preparation for everybody across the board,” Kupets Carter said.
Cashman and the other GymDogs will continue phasing into competition against SEC opponent Arkansas on Jan. 26 in Stegeman Coliseum.