“Crazy, its crazy,” said Centenary student athlete Sierra Ponder. “But its a challenge that’s worth it.”
That’s how Centenary Senior, Sierra Ponder sums up her experince as a collegiate gynmast.
Her skills standout in the gym, but it’s her story of perseverance that really makes her shine.
“I could tell from the beginning that she was very determined individual and she was really dedicated and committed to all aspects of being a student athlete,” said Head Coach Jackie Fain.
Ponder hit the ground running for the Ladies, earning second team All-America accolades from USA Gymnastics during her Freshman season.
Then everything changed.
“She had a couple of bumps in the road actually,” said Fain. “She had a really sever concussion actually her Freshman year as well. She was out of gymnastics completely from May to November. Then she started into her sophomore season, actually was doing really well. Then she tore her ACL at the end of that year.”
That began a long road to recovery.
“I had to trust the process,” said Ponder. “It definitely was not easy at first, good thing I had Coach Jackie, my mom, and God. Just trusting that process, believing in myself and my teammates.”
“She’s in the right place in her head,” said Fain. Like she just knows what she wants and she knows what she needs to do to get there and she is really committed to doing those things.”
“I knew that I wanted to be back so I knew what I had to do,” said Ponder.
“It’s hard for them when they dedicate so much of their life and their heart to this sport to be out in an instant,” said Fain. “You know a major injury like an ACL, that’s nine months out. Injuries happen in sports, they do, you can’t get around it. They just have this inner determination to come back and be better than they were before.”
Fast forward to the 2021 season, and Ponder is back stronger than ever, ready to compete with an upgraded routinue on bars and working to get back on beam, floor, and in the vault lineup. This incredible recovery made easier by the support of her teammates.
“Being a part of this team we have a really good relationship with all of our teammates,” said Ponder. “We’ve just accepted the fact that we are here for a reason and in doing that we are using our time wisely and we are supporting each other every step of the way. “
As one of two collegiate gymnastics program in the state of Louisiana, Centenary draws student atheletes from across the United States. The small size of the student body, often catching the gymnastics world by surpirse with so much talent.
“It’s really kind of cool in the fact that were the only small school, really in the south, that has gymnastics,” said Fain. “So it’s kind of a little niche actually”
That niche, attracting this Georgia native to Shreveport- Bossier. Her legacy is one of hope, determination, and hard work.
“Be wiling to do more, give more than you think that you can because this sport is nothing but commitment,” said Ponder. “Just trust it and go with your heart.”