By Taylor Morgan
Special to Tidesports
Six leg surgeries weren’t going to keep Alabama gymnast Jensie Givens from competing and realizing her goals.
Yes, six surgeries.
Givens, a sophomore from Newport Beach, California, came to the University of Alabama after being a Junior Olympic All-Around champion as well as a silver medalist on the uneven bars at the 2017 USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic Regional Championship.
Givens was also coached by two Olympians, Jia Wen and Li Xiaoping throughout her club gymnastics days, so Givens was always familiar with performing at a high level.
She was also familiar with competing in pain.
She sustained stress fractures in both shins when she was in high school but continued to train just as she had seen other athletes do in the past. The fractures continued to get worse.
“I was great at doing anything with a quick reaction or a small burst but the longer I needed to use my muscles the more they would cry to me to stop,” Givens said.
In November of 2015 Givens, at age 15, received her first surgery.
In order to leave the hospital after four days, Givens was required to walk up at least five stairs with the help of crutches. She recalls it being the hardest feeling in her life.
“When I stood up after this last surgery the nurse said walk and I looked at her and I was like ‘watch me, let me go,’ and all of a sudden I leaned forward and my foot wouldn’t pick up and move forward. My brain was saying go but my feet stayed planted and didn’t move.”
Following the deep tissue work after her procedure for rehabilitation purposes, Givens mentioned starting small with things that as an athlete felt so small and simple.
After five months Givens was able to get back to gymnastics and everything seemed fine. Until last year.
After finishing her freshman season Givens said she had what she called “indescribable feelings in her legs.”
She had surgery last April and again a month later, giving her a slight gap in between each of her legs.
After the surgeries she went home for the summer and was able to come back and begin training again in July.
“I just remember after every single surgery I’ve had people ask me if it gets tougher along the way,” She said. “I mean, yes it does, but at the same time no it doesn’t. After having that experience and gaining that strength it kind of helped me along. It just makes everything more meaningful and impactful.”
Coming off these surgeries, Givens made it a goal to achieve a 9.9 this season, and during the Metroplex Challenge against Oklahoma, Georgia, and Denver, she did just that and a little bit more. Givens received a career-best 9.925 on the uneven bars to lead the Crimson Tide.
“It was almost like an out of body experience though because I just stepped back, took a breath and let myself go,” Givens said. “It just came out and there it was, my feet were on the ground and I saluted and that’s when I knew and that’s when my tears started falling. I looked over to my teammates and saw them screaming and crying and that was just like the moment.”
Givens believes this season is going to be something special. The Crimson Tide is focused on always staying in what they call their ‘Bama bubble’ and concentrating on being able to achieve the .05 better each time they compete.
“Just having the opportunity to compete for The University of Alabama just makes every moment so precious” Givens said.