This May I had my state gymnastics meet. The head of Xcel Gymnastics created a new rule where all Xcel gymnasts had to qualify to compete in regionals, the meet after states. The qualifying score was an all around (the scores from each event added together) of 35.5 or higher for my level. The new aspect of the state meet put more pressure on my teammates and I, but in the end, we still realized that we needed to work just as hard as we would for any other meet. Despite feeling confident on my skills from the practice before the meet, I had lots of nerves. When I made it to the meet on a warm Sunday afternoon, I stepped out of the car, feeling the tightness of my hair-sprayed ponytail as well as the cold sweat on my hands. At the front table, I checked in. Distracted by everything happening around me, I barely noticed the worker quickly write a number in black sharpie on my hand. I soon realized that the worker was giving my parents and I instructions for which gym I would be competing. As I looked through the window of the gym, I saw my teammates that had just competed. Thankful that I wasn’t the only person from my team there, I walked down the stairs onto the floor and set my bag down next to my teammates. A moment later, my teammate that I was competing in stepped into the gym. I got her attention to insure she knew where to go (at the state meet, teams are split up into age groups to compete at separate times). As the previous session went to the awards ceremony, my coach told us the schedule. Making our way to the floor for our running warm-up, I saw the other teams, frantically attempting to claim a spot on the floor since it was hard to cram every gymnast onto the floor at once. When it was time to warm up our basic skills (handstands, walkovers, etc), my teammate and I joined a larger group so we wouldn’t take up an unnecessary amount of space. Once we finished warming up, my teammate and I took our competition jackets off. Walking back to the floor, we found our coach, who lead us to beam, the first event we would compete. At the time, I thought that we would have a chance to warm up each event and then go back through to compete them. After a rough warm-up, my coach told me the order of competition; she usually tells us this right before we compete.
Earlier I had been convinced that I would get a second chance to warm up skills but now I realized that I wouldn’t get that second chance. I began to internally panick. Luckily I had time to calm down and focus because I was the last gymnast to compete in that rotation. In order to focus, I went through my routine in my head with a positive viewpoint, imagining myself executing everything perfectly. As I began to perform, I thought about how I had stuck the same skills various times in practice. This also helped me stay calm and focused in each part of my routine. My mindset during my routine showed me that even if it’s hard to stay calm and focused, it is the best way to be successful. I felt my nerves slowly disappear, like a heavy weight lifted off my shoulders. I told myself to stay focused on each skill even when I get passed the ones I was most worried about. Before my dismount I took a deep breath and continued to block out every sound and distraction. I ended up sticking my tumbling series and dismount! I believe that my positive mindset in my beam routine led the rest of my routines because I had earned good scores on every event afterwards. I ended the meet with a 37.450 all around, almost two points above the qualifying score! In my age division, I won the all around and got 5th place overall. This earned me a spot on the All Star Regional A Team where the top seven all around scores from each state in the midwest compete for the Regional title. A few days after the meet, the scores updated where I realized I made the team. That day at practice, I asked my coach where I should sign up.
She told me that she thought everyone had to sign up at the meet, prior to knowing they had made the all star team. To make sure, she contacted the hosts of the meet. Later that week, my coach called my mom saying that I had to sign up at the state meet to go. I was devastated knowing that even though I had put in lots of hard work to qualify, I wouldn’t be able to go. Knowing I couldn’t change the outcome, I decided to accept the result. These experiences taught me to keep a positive attitude in both good and bad situations. I believe that this experience can also be applied to other scenarios in the future where the end product of a situation will be harder to accept.