Sofia Overcomes a Setback


Sofia on top of her cheer squad

Rosie Babcock and Priscilla Calise

Many people may know and love the Mattera family of East Quogue. Whether it’s from Sonny’s Prime Meats in the heart of town or from the oldest daughter Victoria, or their only son Anthony.

The youngest Mattera, Sofia, grew up in East Quogue and has lived there her entire life. She is a sophomore and an energetic member of our HS cheer team – however an injury almost prevented her from having this opportunity.

Sofia was a competitive gymnast for seven years. “Gymnastics was something I wish I never had to stop doing; I made many long- lasting friends and it was something that I loved doing all the time.”

Sofia was very dedicated and practiced for four days a week, three hours a day, for most of her life.  She said, “When I was little, I would always cartwheel around my house and do backflips on my trampoline, so my mom decided to put me in gymnastics at Flip-Flop in Westhampton.”

Sofia continued, “My biggest supporters were my parents. They showed up to every meet and always paid and signed up for me to do camps and extra activities for gymnastics.”

The sky was the limit for Sofia, but then she suffered a back injury. “My back started to hurt, but I would push it off, thinking it wasn’t a big deal. When I finally went to the doctor, they told me I had a bunch of tiny lumbar fractures and I would not be able to do gymnastics anymore.”

This was huge setback for Sofia. “After finding out this news I was devastated. I would cry every single night wishing I was back in the gym. I had to wear a huge back brace to school for four months in 6th grade.”

“The toughest challenge I would have to go through was probably having to admit the fact that I was not going back to the sport I loved for seven years. I wouldn’t even go back to the gym to watch everyone practice or visit to say hi because I was so upset.”

After years of not doing the sport she loves, Sofia decided to join the high school cheer team. She figured this was the closest she was ever going to get to gymnastics.  “The happiest moment of my life was making the cheer team and making a bunch of new friends on the team. Cheering is so much fun and it reminds me of gymnastics.”

Emily Smith, a cheerleader with Sofia, said, “Sofia has been put through many things while being on the team but she always rises to the top and comes through when we need her.”

As Sofia reflected on her injury, she said, “Even though I was angry at myself at losing gymnastics, it made me realize that it was better to care for my health and heal than push it and make my back worse and ignore the problem.” She is proud that she  overcame her injury and got back to feeling like herself again.

No matter what happens, Sofia tries to keep a positive mindset and remember that “everything happens for a reason.”