The Alabama gymnastics team wasn’t there when Auburn gymnast Samantha Cerio sustained a career-ending injury less than two weeks ago during regionals. The Crimson Tide was competing at the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional in Michigan, while the Tigers were at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional in Louisiana. Neither program advanced to the final two rounds of the 2019 NCAA Championships.
None of those details stopped Alabama from sending its love across the state to the Auburn family.
“What we did was we got together and we sent her a get well card,” UA coach Dana Duckworth said. “I also immediately reached out to all the coaches at Auburn – all of them – and sent just a little thing from us that said, ‘Get well, Sam Cerio. – Alabama gymnastics staff.’ Because you take your rivalry aside at that moment and you are friends at that moment. You just know that you don’t wish anything like that on anyone.”
Cerio dislocated both knees and tore multiple ligaments in both legs, AU coach Jeff Graba shared on Twitter soon after the accident. It happened at the end of a tumbling pass during her floor exercise routine. She immediately underwent surgery with Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham that lasted 2.5 hours, and Graba said it “was an extreme success.”
Cerio is a senior and will graduate from Auburn with a degree in aerospace engineering. She already has a job lined up in Seattle with Boeing as a structural design analysis engineer, which mean she’ll be working on rockets. She has also her wedding in June and told NBC’s “Today” show Monday she’s going to do everything in her power to walk down the aisle when the day comes.
“She’s a fighter, she’s a tough kid, she’s going to endure this, she’s going to come back from this, and she’s going to walk down that aisle or she’s eventually going to be able to walk,” Duckworth said. “Those are the lessons your teach your young ladies, and don’t take any day for granted.”
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Friday night was my final night as a gymnast. After 18 years I am hanging up my grips and leaving the chalk behind. I couldn’t be prouder of the person that gymnastics has made me to become. It’s taught me hard work, humility, integrity, and dedication, just to name a few. It’s given me challenges and road blocks that I would have never imagined that has tested who I am as a person. It may not have ended the way I had planned, but nothing ever goes as planned. Thank you Auburn family for giving me a home and a chance to continue doing the sport that will always be my first love. I am honored to have had the privilege to represent the navy and orange AU for the past 4 years with my team by my side. Thank you for letting me share my passion with you. Thank you for letting me be a part of something bigger than myself. War Eagle Always 💙🧡