Finding new reasons to cheer

Nov. 22, 2013 @ 07:35 PM

All anybody had to say was, “Party over here!” and N.C. Central student Jasmine Guy was there.

Guy had headed out to back in February on a night she can’t forget in part because NCCU played archrival N.C. A&T in basketball the next day.

It wasn’t raining that evening, but Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway was wet from earlier precipitation.

“I didn’t have on my seatbelt,” Guy said.

The driver in the car in which she rode lost control, struck a guardrail and then a tree.

Suddenly, life no longer was about the next party.

“I didn’t realize what was going on until I tried to get out. I was stuck,” Guy said. “Something was clamped around my leg. I saw my leg. It was hanging.”

The driver wasn’t wearing her seatbelt, either, but escaped without major injuries, Guy said.

“She walked away from it,” Guy said.

But Guy was in a world of hurt. Her right leg was broken and her left ankle was chipped. The tendons hung out of one foot, she said. The tendons weren’t damaged, she said, but they looked a mess. Some of her teeth had gotten pushed into her gums.

There was no way Guy would make it to the A&T game, and she wouldn’t have gone just as a fan.

She was an NCCU cheerleader.

It’s hard, though, to root on a team with a shattered jawbone and a metal rod in your leg.

Yet while Guy was forced to put down her pompoms, she was encouraged by a cheering section that included her mother, grandmother and a squad of friends who somehow made it seem as though her injuries, as serious as they were, weren’t so bad.

“The accident didn’t happen to me; it happened for me,” Guy said. “It changed me dramatically.”

Partying no longer was the main thing. She still likes to hang out, but Guy — 21, from Charlotte — said the accident allowed her to discover the joy of solitude.

“It taught me how to be alone. It helped me transition into adulthood,” Guy said. “As I began to heal mentally, physically it started to come along.”

During Guy’s recovery, she used a walker to get around until she progressed to crutches.

Before long, it was time to pick up the pompoms.

“I never once thought that I wasn’t going to be able to cheer,” Guy said.

NCCU cheerleading coach LuAnn Edmonds-Harris reserved a spot on the team for Guy’s return.

“I let her do it at her pace,” Edmonds-Harris said about Guy rejoining NCCU’s cheerleaders.

Guy would come to practices and go through the routines while sitting in a chair until she could more. Her mobility isn’t what it was, so there are limitations on what she can do, which bothers Edmonds-Harris.

“It does hurt,” Edmonds-Harris said, recalling Guy’s days as an outstanding gymnast prior to her college years.

“I heard about Jasmine Guy before she came to NCCU,” Edmonds-Harris said. “But I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.”

In 1970, Edmonds-Harris broke her leg in a car wreck. She understands the pain and heartache that Guy has experienced and will continue to endure.

“This has tested Jasmine, but it’s also given me a test, as well,” Edmonds-Harris said.

Edmonds-Harris said none of her cheerleaders over the years have had to pay the sort of price that Guy has paid. Incorporating Guy back into the cheerleading lineup has been a day-to-day journey, Edmonds-Harris said.

The road Guy travels comes with stares, particularly when she uses a crutch. Some people think she’s faking pain, she said. Guy said she’s heard the whispers.

But Guy said she knows how her body hurts when it rains or when it’s cold outside, a reminder about that metal rod in her leg.

“When it’s real nice outside, some days I can walk like normal,” Guy said. “It’s all a test.”

Guy would tell you that she is passing that test, captaining NCCU’s cheerleading squad, anticipating graduation in December 2014, all while turning her pain into gain. 

“It’s definitely a blessing,” Guy said.

In a word, she’s thankful.