Cassie Brown, 19 years old, is a professional dancer and actress. She recently graduated full-time college with an Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts and started working as a Professional Dancer and Children’s Entertainer, before rupturing my ACL almost 5 months ago.
1) Can you share your ACL story?
Finally graduated, my professional career as a performer was at its peak. I had trained so hard for two years, putting in 12 hour days, sometimes more. I was starting to work professionally as a Children’s Entertainer for a large company in Australia. I was dancing, singing, acting, getting to travel and still taking classes in my downtime and being mentored in my spare time! Life couldn’t be better.
Whilst I was taking one of my regular classes, I jumped and the next thing I knew I was on the floor. The pop and feeling of a band breaking and my heart sinking was unforgettable and will always stick with me. At first I wasn’t sure what it was and thought I might’ve just popped my knee out and tried to laugh it off. When I received the MRI results I definitely wasn’t laughing. I had fully ruptured my ACL.
2) What was the hardest part of the experience?
The hardest part of this injury was admitting defeat. As athletes we always try to push through pain and injury - however in situations like these you just can’t. Saying goodbye to my contract that I had worked so hard for and saying goodbye to everything that I had known for so many years broke me. Suddenly I didn’t know who I was and I was questioning if it was even worth going back to - I could not see myself in that position again at that level. But at the same time I couldn’t imagine living without it...
3) How did you stay motivated throughout the process?
Being an athlete you are so determined, and I know that I’m someone who always wants to prove people wrong. After surgery, even though I was questioning my professional career I knew that I had to rehab right - otherwise I wouldn’t have the choice to go back and do what I love. Of course everyone has their days, even weeks where all you’re doing is rehab and feeling like you’re getting nowhere and questioning if you’ll get back to professional level. I always try to look to the future and imagine myself on stage again and that for me is enough to keep me going.
4) What advice would you give to other athletes on the road to recovery?
To other athletes going through this injury or something of a similar nature - never give up! Remember what your goals are for the long term and really look at the big picture. This is only a short term thing. It may seem like your world has crumbled before you, but you just have to remind yourself it’s a perfect time to retrain your body and mind and come back stronger than you were which is actually a blessing to a lot of people!
5) Do you think this experience changed you as a person?
This experience has definitely changed me as a person. Before it got taken away in a second I thought I was invincible. I took dancing and performing everyday for granted. I would have days where I didn’t want to go to class or learn that new show because it took too much effort. I now realise how lucky I was to be in that position and am looking forward to appreciating my art every bit more when I come back. I also think as an artist it changes how you move. I’m only 4 months out of surgery and just starting dance rehab from the very start. I feel like a baby taking ballet for the first time but I’m learning to move in a new way that’s more mature and has a story behind it and I can’t wait to see the dancer I turn into at the end of this long, painful, yet inspiring journey.
Read her post on: how this ACL injury made me a better dancer and dance teacher