Hello everyone! Welcome back to my blog, The Student-Athlete Handbook! For those of you who may be new to my blog, my name is Lauren Zemanek, and I am a senior sport and exercise science major and a student-athlete on the Acrobatics and Tumbling team here at Gannon! In my blog The Student-Athlete Handbook, I focus a lot on the happenings in my life and how they relate back to my experiences as a student-athlete. My goal is for my blogs to inspire people of all ages and to provide more insight from a student-athlete perspective on Gannon’s campus. This past week has been my first full week back at the EDGE, and I am excited to see what this summer brings! As a team, we have a ton of fun and exciting projects planned, and I can’t wait to share my experiences will you all. This summer I plan to talk a lot about my personal experiences as an athlete in the “off-season” In this segment, I am going to talk a little bit about what I have planned this summer and give an outlook of “a day in the life of Lauren.”


                                   The Summer 2019 EDGE Team


I have so much planned this summer! Besides working approximately 25 hours per week with EDGE, I am enrolled in a summer class that involves a job shadowing placement in a physical therapy clinic. I spend about 10 hours per week shadowing a physical therapist along with an online portion where I must complete weekly journals and discussions. I am hoping that this experience will give me a better idea of what I want to do post-graduation as I will be earning my Bachelor of Science in sport and exercise science in the spring of 2020. I have learned so much already in the four weeks that I have been shadowing and there is so much more to learn in the coming weeks!


On top of my work and school obligations, I am attending physical therapy myself throughout the entire summer and beyond. As mentioned in one of my previous blogs, I suffered a knee injury back in February during one of my acro and tumbling meets. I tore my left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and suffered a partial thickness tear of my medial meniscus. For those of you who are unfamiliar with medical terminology, the ACL’s main purpose is for knee stability and to keep the tibia (your shin bone) from sliding out in front of the femur (thigh bone). The meniscus is a pad in the knee that reduces friction during movement and cushions the knee joint. So, you could say that the ACL is a pretty important ligament to have, as well as a full-functioning meniscus.


I had ACL reconstruction surgery on April 3 and a piece of my meniscus was also removed during this procedure. I was showing slow progress in the weeks following surgery, but I was unable to get full knee extension, which is one of the hardest things to get back after an ACL injury/reconstruction. I started to regress and was having extreme difficulty getting full knee extension, so I returned to the doctor at the beginning of June to find out that I had a significant amount of scar tissue that formed in my knee as a result of the surgery, which was preventing me from getting full range of motion. The doctor told me that he wanted to perform a second surgery to remove the scar tissue as soon as possible to ease the recovery process and make physical therapy more tolerable. So, I went back in for a second surgery on June 5 and started to show significant gains in the week following surgery. About two weeks after surgery, however, I started to regress again and was actually extending my knee less than I was able to before the second surgery. Earlier this week, I visited the doctor again, and he gave me a steroid shot to help with the pain and hopefully help me achieve full extension.


I spend about four days per week at physical therapy for about two hours working my butt off so I can get back to doing what I love on the mat! My goal is to be healthy enough to compete in my final season as a student-athlete on the Acrobatics and Tumbling team here at Gannon! I have been doubted, questioned, and looked down on by so many people, but I am not letting it get to me one bit! These past five months have been extremely rough on me both physically and emotionally (it feels like a roller coaster that never ends), but I am extremely determined and have full faith that there is a light at the end of the tunnel!


Me following my knee injury, February 2019


Now aside from all of the serious stuff, I have a lot of fun things planned this summer! One of my best friends and former teammate is getting married on August 31st, and I am one of six bridesmaids. This past weekend was the bridal shower, and it was so much fun! The stag and drag is this weekend, and it is going to be a great weekend for it! At the end of July, we are going to Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada for her bachelorette party for a weekend getaway. I am super excited and can’t wait to share my experiences with you all! I am also going to see Florida Georgia Line and Dan + Shay at the beginning of August in Pittsburgh as a part of my 21st birthday present! Two of my absolute favorite artists in one concert is something that I can’t wait for!



The bridal party

Me and the bride-to-be!


Although this summer is going to be super busy, I am really excited for what is to come! Whether it is work, job shadowing, physical therapy, or just a lazy day at home, there is so much to look forward to. Stay tuned for my summer adventures, as I will be posting to the EDGE website weekly throughout the summer, and you won’t want to miss a thing!