With the finish line in sight, there’s no room for holding back.
Only one week remains in the UF gymnastics team’s season, and despite any nagging injuries, soreness or overall tiredness, the ultimate goal is merely days away.
There’s no reason to save yourself for later.
There’s no reason to leave gas in the tank.
There’s no reason to worry about short-term consequences.
For a senior like Rachel Spicer, that carries extra weight.
This isn’t just the last week of her season; it’s the last week of her career.
Gymnastics won’t even be a part of her life after this weekend.
She plans on attending Parker University in Texas after she graduates in December with hopes of becoming a chiropractor.
With that in mind, she is fighting through the pain of a sprained ankle to finish out her collegiate career.
The senior sprained her left ankle — her dominant leg — in training on March 27 while practicing her floor routine, a week prior to Florida’s regional competition on April 4.
As the ankle turned awkwardly, Spicer felt both the pain of the injury and the painful realization that this could be the end.
Depending on the severity, this was something that could cut her final season short.
"They had to carry her off the floor," coach Rhonda Faehn said. "She got an X-ray. I thought for sure she broke it and that she was gonna be done."
But luckily for Spicer, she wasn’t done.
With rest, the ankle could get back to full-strength in a month, maybe less.
But that wasn’t good enough.
"It’s not like I really have time to play with for healing," Spicer said.
After a few days of rehab, Spicer decided she would give the ankle a try.
She trained on beam just one day that week and at first compensated for the ankle during the routine. But she quickly realized she couldn’t maintain the proper balance by doing so, and instead decided to simply endure the pain.
"I kinda just had the mindset, like, ‘OK, I’m gonna do everything normal and if it hurts, it hurts, but I’m gonna keep going," she said.
She performed well enough for the coaches to allow her to keep her spot in the lineup and scored a 9.850 in the regional competition.
The toughest part was the dismount, but because she only had to do one, Spicer knew she could hold on and stick the landing.
"It was painful, but I also have that kinda extra motivation to keep going because it is the end of (the) season, it is the end of my gymnastics career," she said. "At this point, like I said, it’s kinda like ‘Let’s tape and go as long as it doesn’t affect my performance significantly.’"
Faehn was amazed with Spicer’s determination.
"It was completely just her sheer will as a senior," Faehn said. "She said there was no way she would be missing this competition."
And with only one final weekend left, there’s no way Spicer will be sidelined for the semifinals, either.
Her goal is not only to compete on beam again but to regain her spots on floor and vault, too.
For her, the pain is insignificant — she can rest in May.
"I think I can push two more weeks out of my whole entire career of like 17 years," Spicer said. "At this point it’s just pushing to the end."
Follow Graham Hack on Twitter @graham_hack24
UF's Rachel Spicer competes on the balance beam at the Southeastern Conference Championships on March 21, 2015, in Duluth, Georgia.