My Chronicles of Having an Injury on Campus

January 27, 2020
Mia Salas

When I was little, I was afraid to go down the slide at the park, So you would think that when I became a flyer (the top girl in stunts) on Princeton Cheerleading, I would be scared for my life. But that’s not what happened; sure, I was nervous, but I wanted to hit the stunts. I wanted to go up again and again so that we could perfect our skills as a stunt group and as a team. Yet in a sport in which you’re throwing people up in the air, there’s bound to be accidents, and one day on the football field, I had mine. I fell forward, which is never a good way to fall because it’s almost impossible for anyone to catch you. I landed on my ankle, and the next week I found out that it was fractured.

Princeton Cheer stunting at a home football game

On my first day back on campus after my injury, I had so many fears. How would I get from Forbes – the residential college furthest from upper campus – to my classes on crutches? How will I get my food in the dining hall when I can’t hold a plate with my crutches? How am I supposed to find the time to ice six times a day, as the doctor instructed? These questions swam through my head as I trekked to Spanish class. I’ll admit the first day was tough. I ended up finding my own means for transportation around campus, stayed in my room when I could and had to miss cheer practice. 

This was all before I realized how supportive the Princeton community truly is and how many resources were available to me. I met someone on the elevator who was also on crutches, and he taught me how to use Tiger Transit, which is Princeton’s shuttle system. McCosh Health Center was also able to provide me with an electric mobility scooter. The scooter was amazing; it had a place to hold my crutches, a basket in the front and back for my backpack and it went decently fast. I almost didn’t want to give it up once my ankle healed! Last, no matter which dining hall I went to, the dining hall staff always offered to help me get my food or carry my plate to the table.

My team was especially supportive, still including me in their team bonding activities, practices, and games. My high school didn’t have a cheer team, but I was able to try the sport at Princeton. Now in my second year on the team, I am so thankful that Princeton lets you pursue your prior interests but also try new things on campus. During my injury, I realized what being a team on and off the field means.

Princeton Cheer team photo

I'm finally back in my sneakers. Although it was hard in the beginning, I am grateful for this experience because it made me feel so proud to be a part of such a kind, thoughtful and genuine community. I also know where all the elevators are now on campus, and I have tons of new routes to get around that do not include stairs. It’s incredible that Princeton was founded in the 18th century, and yet it’s surprisingly very accessible. I’m excited to get back on the court once I’m fully healed.