Louisville cheerleader back on the mat following severe tumbling injury

Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 6:03 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A Louisville cheerleader who thought her senior year of high school would end on a low note is thankful for the progress she’s made.

Last year, Tae Willis had her eyes set on Oldham County High School varsity cheer team, but in a split second, her dream turned into a nightmare.

“I was doing a tumbling pass, and a girl went too early and collided with me mid-air,” she explained.

Willis broke her tibia and fibula in her leg and had no idea if she would ever cheer again.

“I definitely knew it was broken because it was bent where it shouldn’t have been bent at all,” she said, “and I was kind of angry because it was my senior year of high school.”

Willis was rushed to UofL Health for surgery, and she left the hospital with a metal rod and four screws in her leg, along with newfound disappointment.

“I didn’t think I would be able to tumble again, and I even told my teammates I don’t think I’ll be back this year,” Willis said.

Her orthopedic surgeon at UofL Health made sure Willis’ doubts didn’t turn into her reality. In less than a year after her surgery performed by Dr. David Seligson, Willis is back at cheer practice.

“Young people go out to play sport and to feel good about themselves and wind up being cripple,” Seligson said, “and I think our responsibility is to get them back to what they want to do.”

Willis went on to graduate at the top of her Oldham County High School class. Now a student at UofL, she has her sights set on becoming a surgeon herself.

“I’ve recently been thinking about going into the Air Force and becoming a trauma surgeon that way,” Willis said.

Even though she’s focused on her studies and the future, Willis said she will still find time to cheer along the way on her new competition team.

She plans to have the metal rod in her leg removed early next year.

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