Concussion symptoms still hamper Evanston’s Beljan
Evanston senior Kayla Beljan goes through warmups with the gymnastics team during practice at the school Tuesday. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 19, 2013 1:46PM
EVANSTON — For many gymnasts, year-end goals involve numbers.
Competitors spend all season perfecting routines by adding tricks in an attempt to maximize scores by the end of the campaign.
Evanston senior Kayla Beljan’s goal for the rest of the season also involves a number. The number Beljan is looking at is four, the amount of events she hopes to compete in by the end of her high school career after suffering a concussion right before Thanksgiving.
“My goal right now is to just get back to the all-around,” Beljan said following the Evanston Invitational on Jan. 5, a meet in which she only competed on uneven bars. “I had to go into things slowly, so I couldn’t do floor (exercise) right away because of the impact it would have if I fell again. I could only do things like (balance) beam, and then I did bars, and I haven’t really been able to do vault or floor as much. Hopefully I’ll be able to do everything (soon).”
Beljan, who was an all-arounder as a sophomore and junior, has been working toward her goal since returning in December after missing nearly four weeks of action. The concussion — the first head injury Beljan has suffered during her career — happened while she was tumbling during practice. She smacked her head on the mat, but continued the exercise.
Beljan was light-headed immediately after hitting her head, and the pain severely worsened the following morning.
While the effects of the concussion aren’t as bad as previously, the senior has found it frustrating that there still are instances in which symptoms linger.
“It’s so frustrating,” Beljan said. “I feel like I can do (all four events), but once I get up to do (them) I sometimes get really dizzy. But it’s so much better than it was.”
Evanston coach Chester Jones said, “She’s a little behind where she was — timing-wise, skill-wise. She lost the whole working time, a whole month of training that she doesn’t have. It hurt her.”