Sorry football players, hockey players and wrestlers, the toughest athletes may be gymnasts.
Few are tougher than Andover senior Rachel Mattison, who last winter came back from a scary concussion when she collided with another gymnast while on the trampoline.
Mattison holds four school records. The Mattison clan is into records. Her father, Jim, holds the Worcester State pole vault record and her brother is an up-and-coming musician.
Rachel took time out to discuss her two brushes with greatness (Mark Wahlberg! Kent Boyd!), her passion for editing videos and the perils of peer pressure in this week's Around the Horn.
How is your season going? "Excellent. It's been my best season in my high school career, which is very exciting."
What's your favorite athletic achievement? "We have an MVC championship every year. I tied for first in the all-around. I was just a little sophomore. I wasn't expecting anything. The year after I won it again."
Give me your best Coach Vadala story? "I've known the Vadala family through Interstate Gymnastics even before high school. There are four Vadalas, all girls. Leeann and I are really good friends. High school came, and I thought, 'Oh, boy, I'm going to meet the older sisters (head coach Kristen and assistant Tracy). She (Kristen) is so animated and driven. She's such a good coach. After a meet she goes home and looks at routines, how can we do better. It's inspirational."
Gymnastics is a tough sport. Have you had a lot of injuries? "People don't realize it. It's graceful, it doesn't look too tough. But on bars you're falling 10 feet from the ground. On top of it, you're doing a skill like a flipping skill. Vaulting when you land, I think I saw it on a Snapple bottle, (the force is) like six times your weight. I've had so many injuries. Last year I had a concussion. I collided with another gymnast on the trampoline. It was just a freak accident. We hit heads. I was out two weeks. But I went back a little too early. I had headaches for like a month. People had to remind me, it's a head injury."