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Latia Coburn's return spurs on Auburn Riverside gymnastics
Auburn Riverside senior Latia Coburn flips through her floor routine.
Fear is not a factor for Latia Coburn.
Three years ago, the Auburn Riverside senior suffered a broken back while competing for the Auburn Gymnastics Center.
“I was doing floor at a club meet in Sacramento,” Coburn said.
At first she thought it was just a back ache and “toughed it out,” completing the meet.
But after a second meet, the pain in her lower back persisted. Coburn relented and visited the doctor where she found out she had fractured her L4 and L5 vertebrae.
“It’s pretty common with a lot of gymnasts with spinal injuries when they have a hairline fracture. They think it’s just a backache,” said Cathy Robinson, Auburn Riverside gymnastics coach. “Gymnasts get a lot of backaches.”
Forced to wear a back brace for three months, Coburn wondered if her gymnastics career might be over because of concerns about re-injuring the vertebrae and possibly suffering paralysis.
Despite the potential for damage, however, Coburn is back on the mat for her senior year with the Ravens’ gymnastics squad.
“I don’t really care what the doctors said,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to come back, so I figured I’d try and see if I could my senior year.”
And come back she has – with a vengeance.
So far this season, Coburn has led the resurgent Ravens as the team’s top all-around gymnast.
Midway through the season, Auburn Riverside is averaging 154.5875 points a meet. Not bad for a team that moved just two individual gymnasts on to districts last season.
“We’ve got a good group of girls this year,” Robinson said. “It certainly helps having one strong scorer on the team and then having the depth that we have this year. Last year we had one good scorer, but we didn’t quite have the depth that we have this year.”
In addition to Coburn, the Ravens boast a solid corps of talented gymnasts this year, including juniors Kylee Urban and Sarah Murgatroyd, sophomore Maddi Miller and senior Danielle Robinson. Last season Robinson, along with Kylie Smith – who graduated last year – were the only Auburn Riverside gymnasts to make it to districts.
And with just one 4A team allocation out of the West Central District III to the state meet this season, the Ravens will need all of the weapons in their arsenal to knock off SPSL 4A powerhouses Jefferson, Mount Rainier, Beamer, Emerald Ridge and Puyallup.
“It’s going to be tough,” Robinson said.
For Coburn individually, it’s about improving and getting better at her events.
“She hasn’t been in the gym for a couple years, but she’s quickly getting back her skills,” Robinson said. “She’s not quite where she wants to be yet. She wants to do more. We want to get her to state.”
And despite the risks when she’s on the apparatus of the floor, Coburn remains determined to do what it takes to get to the state meet.
“I’ll throw whatever I have to,” Coburn said. “I may get a little nervous, but I’ll throw it.”