Not steppin’ real high

Senior Highstepper breaks ankle, unable to dance for football season


Emily Meinzer

Senior Brooke Rayburn watches her fellow Highsteppers perform at a football game. Rayburn will be unable to dance until December.

Story by Caroline May, in-depth editor

She worked hard to be senior lieutenant, she waited three years for this moment, she practiced these skills all year, she perfected this routine for weeks, she landed this leap everyday. What she never practiced was colliding with another dancer during the performance and ending her last few times to dance on the football field.

Senior Brooke Rayburn broke her right lateral and medial malleolus, the two prominent bones of the ankle, on Sept. 18 at the Kilgore football game halftime show, bringing her dancing season to a close.

“After I heard the loud snap, I knew that something was wrong,” Rayburn said. “I couldn’t get my foot to straighten back out towards the front. It was stuck to the left. I couldn’t put any weight on my foot, or I felt like I was going to fall.”

Although she won’t be clear to dance again until the beginning of December, Rayburn still does everything she can to participate with the team.

“I still dress out with the girls,” Rayburn said. “I still participate as an officer by making corrections and making sure everyone is in their correct position. I attend the football games and pep rallies in uniform even though I don’t perform so that I can support the team.”

Not only does her injury affect her dance life, but it also affects almost every other aspect of her routine.

“It changes absolutely everything from showering, to getting into the car, to walking down the hallways at school,” Rayburn said. “It’s all such a huge transformation. It’s so bizarre having to be so dependent on my family and friends to help me with my things constantly. I hate having to ask people for help all of the time, but there is no way I can do some of these things alone.”

Although the experience has been difficult for her to become accustomed to, this is not the first injury Rayburn has encountered. During her time on drill team, she has become aware of a rare knee condition and pulled her hamstring twice. However, her current fracture has proven to be an entirely different incident.

“I do have a history of injuries, but this is the first actual break I’ve had while dancing,” Rayburn said. “It’s possibly been the worst experience of my life. Because of one leap that I’ve done more than a thousand times in my lifetime, dancing is over for me for a few months.”

As a senior, the most painful part of the situation for Rayburn is missing out on some of her last events as a Highstepper.

“I no longer can say, ‘This is my senior football game in my white outfit and sparkly hat,’ and that’s probably the most heartbreaking feeling,” Rayburn said. “You want to have your last moments with you friends because you’re never going to get another senior year. It’s supposed to be very sentimental, and it’s upsetting because I don’t have the opportunity to be out there with my teammates doing what I love.”