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January 12, 2014

Career nearly ended by back injury, Livingston stars for Andover gymnastics

After nearly career-ending injury, Livingston stars for Andover gymnastics

ANDOVER — Doctors have informed Jessie Livingston that when she eventually finishes competing in gymnastics, the back pain that has plagued her for the past four years will likely fade away.

But anyone who believes the Andover High senior is going to walk away before the job is done doesn’t know Jessie Livingston.

“Doctors hope the pain will go away with time,” she said. “But I love gymnastics and I love competing for Andover. I love my teammates and coming through for them. I will have time after high school. Right now, I want to have a senior year to remember.”

It was more than three years ago that a fractured back nearly ended Livingston’s gymnastics career before she ever had the chance to compete for the Golden Warriors.

But the 5-foot Livingston not only overcame the odds to return to her sport, she has once again emerged as one of the top gymnasts in Massachusetts and the top all-around competitor for Andover High, which is 3-0.

“She is someone that strives for perfection in everything that she does,” coach Tracy Vadala said. “She came back from an injury that ends most careers, and has been my top girl in the all-around since her sophomore year. She does things most gymnasts can’t do.”

It wasn’t long ago, however, that Livingston didn’t believe she would ever compete in gymnastics again.

A competitive gymnast since childhood, Livingston’s world was thrown into disarray in September 2010 when the then-Andover High freshman was working out with her club team.

“I was doing a move on the bars when I hyper-extended my back,” she remembered. “But I thought I could just work through it so I kept practicing for the next couple of days, which probably made it worse.”

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