This story is featured in the V4 2023 issue of Inside Cheer! Get your copy today by subscribing at

Bouncing Back 

Brooke Walker is determined to get back to the sport she loves 

By Ashlee Buhler

Brooke Walker had just returned from a choreography session with her team at Rockwall-Heath High School when we jumped on the phone to chat one August afternoon. The next evening she had practice with her All Star team at Champion Cheer and was looking forward to a camp the coming weekend. 

With her busy schedule, both as a student and an athlete, one would never guess the Texas teen lost a leg just five months prior. But if there’s one thing you should know about Brooke Walker – she’s a fighter through and through!

It all began when she started experiencing pain in her left leg earlier this year. As an athlete who is used to dealing with aches and pains, Brooke figured it was nothing out of the ordinary. With the NCA All-Star National Championship right around the corner, she was determined to push through. “I was like, ‘This will go away. I just have to keep working and rest,” Brooke recalled. She ended up competing twice at NCA’s, but the pain soon became too much to bear. 

“I came backstage bawling and my team was there for me and helped me walk off the stage,” Walker said. “Just a little side note though, I did hit!”

On the evening of February 27, 2023, unable to sleep due to the intensifying pain, Brooke’s mother took her to the hospital. The pain had now traveled down to her foot. That’s when doctors discovered an arterial blood clot, which they believe started in her hip, was broken down when tumbling and eventually traveled down to her foot. 

The game plan was to clear out her arteries, which Brooke thought would be a relatively simple fix, but exactly one month and three surgeries later, doctors decided an amputation was necessary. 

At that moment, life came to a screeching halt. Everything – the sport that has been a part of her life since she was 11, her future plans to cheer in college – suddenly felt in jeopardy. 

“I was super worried,” Brooke said. “I had this dream to cheer in college that I’ve been working for. I was on a Level 6 Worlds team and if I couldn’t get back to where I was, they didn’t need me on that team! School cheer said they would allow me to cheer on the sidelines, but they needed to wait until I was back to see if I was able to compete. It was scary! It was like, ‘I want to get this thing that I love back.’ 

When all was said and done, Brooke had six surgeries and spent a total of 36 days in the hospital, where she of course was showered by love from both her high school and All Star teammates. 

“I had visitors, I had cards, I had texts on my phone everyday, I couldn’t even keep up with the amount of texts and DMs,” Brooke said. “My cheer team is truly my family and they were looking after me. They came to visit me and it was like Christmas everyday with all the gifts!”

It was her teammates who helped establish a sense of normalcy during one of the toughest times of her life. And just as they do out on the football field or on the competition floor, they had her back when it mattered most and helped to lift her spirits. 

“I had girls from my team sit there with me and watch TV,” Brooke said. “It just felt good to hang out with friends. They knew what was happening, but they treated me like I was normal. Like it wasn’t anything too serious! It definitely helped me take my mind off it.”

The epitome of determination and strength, it only took two months for Brooke to start walking with her new prosthetic leg. In no time, she was navigating the streets of Greece and thinking of her future in cheer.

“Four days after I started walking, my family and I went on a trip to Greece,” Brooke said. “I used my crutches and I walked all over Greece on my brand new prosthetic leg and that’s how I learned to walk. As soon as I got back from Greece I was like, ‘Ok now I can walk. I want to get back into cheer.’

To start her comeback quest, Brooke connected with former Oklahoma gymnast Missy Seyler. Seyler was a gymnast at the University of Oklahoma that suffered a career ending injury, which led to eventual amputation of her right leg. Despite the obstacle, Seyler learned to tumble again and eventually opened her own gymnastics facility where she and her husband coach today.

Brooke meets with Seyler once a week (soon to be twice a week) for about two hours to relearn how to tumble on her prosthetic leg. “It’s always the highlight of my week,” Brooke said. 

Without an ankle to push off of, tumbling has been a learning process that requires a lot of patience. Finding the right prosthetic has also been a challenge. However, together with Seyler, Brooke has made tremendous progress. She is already doing back handsprings on the hard floor and back tucks on the trampoline. Unlike the thoughts that swirled through her mind while laying in the hospital, there are no longer any doubts in Brooke’s mind that she’ll be back out on the competition floor next season with her team, Champion Cheer Heat. 

“I will be competing,” Brooke said. “My stunt group is already hitting pretty solid. My team has welcomed me back and helped me in every way possible. I have some of my best friends on that team that are gonna help me compete right beside them. I’ll be back. Not tumbling at first, but soon!”

Having been finalists at Worlds for many years, Heat has their sights set on winning the title in 2024.  

“This year we’re going Limited and we’ve beaten every team in our division before, so hopefully we’ll be able to win Cheerleading Worlds,” Brooke said, her confidence morphing into a brief moment of concern. “Can I say that in the magazine? Is that going to jinx it?”

Just as she is manifesting a winning outcome for her All Star season, Brooke has high hopes for her team at Heath High School as well, where she has just begun her senior year. Brooke and her team will be looking to not only defend their NCA title, but hope to become Grand Champions, too.

In the spring her focus will shift to fulfilling her dream of becoming a college cheerleader. Her top picks are the University of Florida, University of Oklahoma, University of Texas and Baylor University – her parents alma mater. 

“Whether I make it or not is in God’s hands,” Brooke said. “I’ve had positive and negative feedback from coaches and I’m just going to give it my all.”

So far, her story has been one of keeping faith, trusting her heart and giving it her all. With that combination, anything is possible. Brooke is living proof! 

Subscribe to Inside Cheerleading magazine at