A dislocated elbow, the departure of a coach and a craving for a more active social life had Howard High graduate Amy Ehle contemplating abandoning gymnastics.
She'd been active in the sport since the age of 3.
But a new coach, a "fresh start" and a burning desire to fulfill a lifelong dream of earning a scholarship spurred the Columbia native's return last year to the sport after a two-year absence.
Ehle's revived fervor recently paid off: She was awarded a full athletic scholarship to the University of New Hampshire.
"It was frustrating at first, because I wasn't really sure whether or not I wanted to try and come back from my injury," said Ehle, 18, who began her comeback in June 1990 by enrolling in Docksiders of Millersville. "I was injured, my coach (Bob Ouelette) at Fair Lands (in Beltsville) left and I felt like I was missing out on doing things with my friends.
"Then, I realized that I only had one year and I could try it and if it didn't work out, I could try something else. The girls on the team and the coaches (at Docksiders) gave me a chance to start fresh, and I needed the change."
The change proved positive for both Ehle and herteam, which for the first time was invited to the U.S. Association of Independent Gymnastics Club's national team competition.
Ehle's individual accomplishments this season, which she considered the "best yet," included a third-place all-around finish at the USAIGC state meet and a ninth-place showing in the regional competition.
Docksiders coach Mark Weber, known for marketing his gymnasts to college scouts, conceded he had been skeptical about Ehle's chances of landing a free ride, but said his doubt quickly diminished.
"The thought of a college scholarship when she came to us was kind of remote," saidWeber, who sends 10- to 15-minute videosof each of his college-boundgymnasts to colleges for review.
"She had a lot of potential and a lot of good basics when she came to us, but she didn't have any of the big skills. We worked on getting her head back in it after being out for two years, and she did an unbelievable job."
Weber was equally pleased with the job Ehle did in working with the younger gymnasts.
"Her personality type is such a great one that it helped our whole
team," said Weber, who in his eight years at Docksiders has seen 17 gymnasts earn scholarships.
"She provided something for us that we didn't have. We basically had a lot of young kids on the team, and she provided us with a leader that the kids could follow. What we provided her with was a whole team that would support her and helpher progress and move on."