Leotards or Cleats

January 13, 2008
By
What types of decisions did you make at age seven? What kind of Barbie should you get? Should you go to Chuck E. Cheese today? Well, I made a life-changing choice at this age. I had a choice of soccer or gymnastics, and I chose the latter. I carefully made this selection after a lot of thought. My decision greatly affects my life and who I am today, and even now, I am happy with my decision.

In first grade, it became apparent that I didn't have time for both soccer and gymnastics; I had to give one up. I remember making lists of the good and bad for each sport. I loved gymnastics, and I liked soccer. I was great at gymnastics, while I was a mediocre soccer player. Being in the gym was fun and challenging. Playing soccer was boring and repetitive. It seemed that all of my friends from school did gymnastics with me, but very few were on my soccer team. I couldn't wait to go to gymnastics practice, while I couldn't stand practicing soccer. I was hesitant even though the choice was obvious. After a few days of serious thinking, I had my final answer: gymnastics. Without knowing it, I had completely changed my life in that instant.

Ever since my pivotal choice, I have not lived a day when gymnastics has not affected me. My sport has shaped my personality, mindset, and identity. Habits and attitudes from the gym gradually began to stick with me in all aspects of my life. For instance, I was motivated and hard-working in the gym, so it became natural for me to be the same way in school. Gymnastics taught me to never give up when I am faced with a challenge. From terrifying round-off fulls off beam to difficult classes at school, I now take tough situations head on, thanks to gymnastics. At the gym, my teammates were outgoing and funny, which led to me being more open and cheerful outside of the gym. My team always cheered each other on during meets and practices, and now I find myself a much more encouraging person because of this. Gratefully, my gymnastics experiences have instilled courage inside of me. Now I have a different way of thinking: "If I can do a flip-flop layout on the beam, then I can definitely give this speech to the class."

Not everything about gymnastics was perfect, however. Twenty hours in the gym per week has never been easy, especially during the school year. I have sacrificed countless hours of sleep to go to practice and get my homework done on school nights. It is still difficult balancing school, gymnastics, and friends. My social life always has been somewhat restricted by gymnastics, but I do have friends at the gym, and my school friends understand. In addition, I now find that my often rigorous schedule forces me to do my best. My experience with gymnastics has made me an expert at planning and balancing time. Finally, the injuries were always hard obstacles to overcome. I have fractured my spine, feet, toes, fingers, and tailbone. Nevertheless, the positive aspects of gymnastics greatly outweigh the negative ones.

If I could, there is no question in my mind that I would select gymnastics again. At times I regretted my choice, but my experiences were absolutely worth all of the frustration, time, and setbacks. Gymnastics has shaped me into who I am now, and I would never give that up. Gymnastics is no longer a sport to me; it's a passion. The awards I received were much more than trophies—they were friendships and the important lessons of persistence, courage, and determination. I know I made the right choice. After all, leotards are way cuter than cleats.





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