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Gymnastics This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   When I was five, my parents made a choice that would affect my life. They put me in a gymnastics program, for which I am grateful.

I started at the beginner level, once a week, where I learned the basics of gymnastics - how to walk across the balance beam, how to swing on the uneven bars, and to do forward rolls on the floor exercise. Then I moved to the intermediate level. Now I could do jumps and forward rolls on the beam, cartwheels on floor, pull-overs on bars, and squat-through vaults. I loved learning new skills. Such excitement.

After two years, I made the huge step up to the "team." I had to learn many tricks, and the routines that accompanied my class, which was Class IV-B, where I competed for six months. I competed well that year, and even qualified for the state competition. Ever since my first meet, I have loved competing.

When I was eight, the levels in gymnastics changed. Before, Class I was the hardest and Class IV-B was the easiest. Then it changed - Level 4 became the easiest and Level 10 the hardest. When I was eight, I became a Level 5 gymnast. I had to work out longer and develop a more extensive skill repertoire. In addition to regular practices, one of my friends, Rachel, and I were chosen to practice with the "big kids," the older, more advanced gymnasts. They were good role models for us. Pretty soon I was able to compete at the State and Regional levels.

Before 1993, I had never really won a major meet. At Regionals that year, I was really on. I ended up winning All-Around for my age group, and two individual events. This meet was a turning point of my career. That summer, I competed in my first National meet. I had an awesome time in Tampa, Florida, but didn't do too well.

Later that summer, I moved up to Level 8. One skill I needed to compete now, as an optional, was a back handspring on beam. This is a particularly hard skill for me. I was having some difficulties getting it, and life at home was confusing, so I didn't compete all year.

When I hurt my wrist, I couldn't workout for a while. This was my first major injury. I had arthroscopic surgery. I was back to working at full strength for three months when I sprained my ankle pretty badly doing a handspring on vault, so I was on crutches for five weeks. Nationals were coming up and I was sure that I wasn't going. But two weeks before, my coach told me that I could go. I was really excited. My first Nationals as an optional! I had a terrific meet and placed sixth on beam and eighth on floor. A couple months before, I was seriously considering quitting. Because of my injuries and not competing, it wasn't fun anymore. Practices were such a drag. Competing in this meet reminded me of the rewards of participating in this sport.

I was able to compete in all the meets during 1995. I enjoyed competing, and I didn't have any memorable "bad" meets. I tried to be consistent in all of my practices, which paid off. I placed eighth on beam at Nationals that year.

I have decided that I am going to continue gymnastics at least through high school. I am also looking at the possibility of a college scholarship. Overall, I think that gymnastics has had a positive effect on my life. l


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

Gymnastics teacher said...
Sept. 22, 2016 at 5:48 pm
Everybody in a gymnastics teacher necer giver just keep trying
 
Olaf.lover said...
Dec. 4, 2014 at 7:53 am
I as well do gymnastics. I loved your story and wanted some advise. I love gymnastics, but becuse of an igery I can't run, at all. My coaches yell at me every practice and I feel becuse of that my skills are getting worse. Mt coaches don't let me work dubles on floor, yet I do a dubble back fo my distmount on beam. What should I do, the thing I love but get yelled at and treaded like a baby? Or should I try something else, that I would be a beginer at? 
 
gymnastics lover replied...
Oct. 12, 2016 at 10:46 pm
I know you posted this two years ago and may no longer need the advice but I thought I would reply just in case it could help. I just recently finished my career in gymnastics and I currently am a coach in gymnastic. I went through a similar struggle. Always remember to stay positive, coaches are humans and they aren't perfect but in the end they want you to do well in the sport. When you have issues with a coach not letting you do a skill talk to them. There is always a good reason behind it, ... (more »)
 
Alyssa C. said...
Oct. 7, 2014 at 3:28 pm
I absolutely loved your story. It actually inspired me to just keep on going in my gymnastics insted of quiting when it gets too hard or if I hurt myself.
 
erinkurf said...
Jan. 6, 2014 at 10:45 am
im a gymnast to and i can relate so well with you because ive had so many injuries and just wanted to give up but i didnt. your stroy was such a great stroy and im glad i read it .
 
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