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Flamborough trampolinist bouncing his way to the World level

St. Mary’s Emmett Morgante not dissuaded by shoulder, knee injuries

By Mac Christie
Flamborough Review (Nov 28, 2017)

Despite some injury issues, Flamborough trampolinist Emmett Morgante is intent on bouncing his way into international competition.

The 17-year-old has been competing in trampoline for about four years — although he was forced to take a year’s hiatus from the sport due to a dislocated shoulder.

Morgante, who has been doing gymnastics since age two and competing since the age of six, found his way to trampoline from gymnastics after suffering a concussion.

“It’s similar, but different.”

When he started trampoline at age 13, Morgante loved it right off the bat.

“I already knew all the basics for trampoline from gymnastics,” he said. “It was just pretty much building on the basics from there.”

The Freelton-area teen said he’s attracted to risk factor of the sport.

“I’m kind of an adrenalin junkie,” he said. “When you’re jumping in the air, you’re jumping 10-15 feet — that’s a pretty cool feeling.

“It’s a very hard, technical sport and takes a long time to actually get good at,” he added.

Trampoline competitions begin with provincial levels, from 1-4, which see athletes compete against others within their own province.

“Those levels, you can move up without having to hit any scores,” he explained. “It’s just when you and your coaches feel you’re ready, you can move up.”

After Level 4 the athletes have to mobilize to Level 5 — which is novice national.

“That’s when you’re allowed to go to nationals,” he explained. “Once you’re in the national levels, you have to hit scores to go up each level.”

From novice, competitors must score high enough to move to espoir, followed by junior and finally senior.

“You can hit a score to go into senior, but the majority of the time … you’re already 18 when you go to senior,” Morgante explained, adding the score is set high to ensure the competitors are physically mature enough to handle the division.

Morgante started at provincial Level 2, and next season he will compete at the junior national level. However, it’s been a long road to get to this point — when he was 14, Morgante suffered a catastrophic shoulder injury.

Disaster struck on a normal day of practice, when the St. Mary Catholic Secondary School student landed on the edge of the trampoline. Trampolinists are trained to kill their bounce and land on the in-deck area when something goes wrong, but Morgante mistimed his kill bounce.

“I went over the in-deck onto the floor and landed on my shoulder,” he said. “Essentially — there’s four muscles in your rotator cuff — I tore two of them fully disconnected, half-tore another and had two or three chips in another and tore another ligament within my shoulder."

“The surgeon told me it was the most serious injury he’d ever seen in someone my age.”

Morgante waited three months for a MRI, which is when he learned the severity of the injury.

“I couldn’t move my arm past 45 degrees, not because of pain, but because I wasn’t physically able to anymore,” he said. “He told me I needed surgery — I had to wait six months for the surgery.”

But when Morgante’s surgery date arrived, he had miraculously recovered.

“He booked it for a three-hour surgery,” Morgante said of the surgeon. “He was out in half an hour because he found that when he went in to fix everything, somehow the muscles had gone from halfway down my arm to all the way back up and reattached themselves.

“He only had to clean up some scar tissue,” he continued. “He said that’s the first time he’s ever seen that and he told me that I’m actually going to be in a medical journal because of it — it’s never been seen before.”

Morgante said he was told his amazing recovery is likely because an injury of the severity he suffered is not generally seen in someone his age.

While the original prognosis specified a year for recovery, because the surgery wasn’t as severe as originally thought, Morgante was back on the trampoline in six months.

Morgante said there was no trepidation about getting back on the trampoline.

“That’s one thing in trampoline that you really can’t think about,” he said of injuries. “If you’re thinking about, ‘Last time I did this and I got injured,’ you’re just going to do the exact same thing again.

“I was just excited to get back.”

Morgante noted the incident that led to his injury was a fluke.

“I wasn’t trying to do anything too crazy,” he said. “It just mistimed the bounce and went flying off.”

While his shoulder isn’t 100 per cent or as strong as his other shoulder, Morgante said he had little to no pain — and doesn’t impact him on the trampoline.

He noted there are two types of competitors in trampoline — those who can spin fast or those who can flip fast.

“I’ve been told multiple times by my coach Dave Ross, that I flip insanely fast and I can just create a flip out of nothing,” Morgante said, adding he recently learned a triple flip move.

“Everybody was telling me I was flipping so fast it only looked like I was doing two flips.”
In his first competition back from the injury, Morgante took home the silver medal — which allowed him to move up to novice nationals.

The trampolinist then competed in Edmonton for his first national-level competition, and while his results weren’t impressive, Morgante said it was a great experience.

The following year he moved up to espoir and competed at a Canada Cup event, where he finished in second place — and was named third in Canada in his age group.

He then competed at nationals in Durham, Ont., in July.

While things were going well in the compulsory routine, in the optional routine he was again bitten by the injury bug.

“I finished it, went to turn to present to the judges … went to turn to walk away and could put zero weight on my knee and couldn’t straighten it at all,” he said. “I don’t know how or what happened, but I couldn’t put any weight on it.”

Morgante qualified for finals the next day, and spent two hours with a physiotherapist and another hour-and-a-half having treatment before he competed.

In the general warm-up for all the competitors, Morgante tested his knee, but after four bounces determined he likely couldn’t compete. But he decided to give it one last shot when his specific warm-up time came around.

“I had about five Advils in my system — I guess the mixture of the Advil and the adrenalin, as I started bouncing more the knee started feeling better,” he said. “I competed and I did fall off … but I was happy enough to be able to compete.”

This past September Morgante competed at an international event in Portugal — which he did solely for the purpose of gaining international experience to go to a World Age Group competition this year.

“I have to have international experience first for Canada to be able to send me,” he explained, noting experience was amazing.

His goal moving forward is qualify for World Age Groups next season — something he’s confident in achieving.

“I think my chances are pretty high,” he said. “After Canada Cup placing second, I was third in Canada and all I had to do was hit a score at nationals and I would have made it.

“Just because of my knee, I didn’t hit the score.”

The Grade 12 student trains four times per week in Richmond Hill, spending about eight hours per week in training.

Morgante has been diagnosed with chronic swelling in his knee, causing instability, due to wear and tear.

“They told me take a break, give it some rest and then go back,” he said, adding he feels it will be fine in the long-term.

While he admitted his ultimate goal is to compete at the Olympic Games, right now he’s solely focused on worlds.

“After that, we’ll think about the next step.”

Flamborough trampolinist Emmett Morgante has suffered some injuries along the way, but the 17-year-old St. Mary Catholic Secondary School student hasn't let that stop him from chasing his trampoline dreams. Photo: Nancy Castura.
Flamborough trampolinist Emmett Morgante has suffered some injuries along the way, but the 17-year-old St. Mary Catholic Secondary School student hasn't let that stop him from chasing his trampoline dreams. Photo: Nancy Castura.