Overcoming what seemed to be an almost career-threatening injury was not easy for senior Travis Kitchen. Kitchen missed all of last season with a broken foot, but this season he said he’s showing many signs of improvement.
“It feels really good to be back,” Kitchen said. “I hope I can do my part to help my team achieve their goals.”
He said it was a difficult time of healing.
“When I first got injured, I was upset. Sitting on the sidelines was depressing,” Kitchen said. “I wanted to compete, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t jeopardize my injury.”
This season has presented a challenge because his foot has not completely healed yet, Kitchen said.
“I hope it continues to heal. I can tolerate the pain, but I still have to keep pushing myself,” he said.
The injury does not seem to have affected his performance so far this year. At the Penn State tri-meet Jan. 21, he scored an 8.500 in floor exercise and an 8.450 on vault. Kitchen has been practicing and working to improve many aspects of his routines.
“I’ve had to work on my vaults. I couldn’t before because of my foot,” he said. “I’ve been improving on the rings and I really feel a lot stronger on them.”
Kitchen said the team’s togetherness is key to the Owls’ success.
“The team is a family. Two years ago we won the ECAC Conference cup at MIT. That showed our team unity to the fullest,” Kitchen said. “We got in there and finished out strong and it showed.”
“When I’m with [my teammates], I feel at home,” he added. “We are always together and we are behind each other all the way.”
Kitchen said he and his teammates are confident they will be able to win the conference championship this year. It’s not an unattainable goal, he said, especially since this year’s team has so much talent. There are 24 gymnasts on the team, seven of whom are freshmen.
“The new guys are stepping up and so is everyone else,” Kitchen said. “This year we have great talent and great gymnasts. If we keep on pushing, we can definitely do this.”
Melissa Dipento can be reached at email@example.com.