What Makes a Gymnast MAG

By Al P., Seattle, WA

     An athlete with the strength of a linebacker and the grace and beauty of a ballerina ... that is a gymnast.

Gymnastics is one of the most dangerous sports in the world and I love it. It takes the body to a whole new level but requires great mental and physical discipline.

I was about six when I started doing gymnastics. I remember going into the school’s gymnasium full of equipment, with the other kids rushing in, eager to learn, and the scent of feet in the air.

I realized I wanted to get serious with gymnastics when I watched the Olympics. When I saw those athletes use their bodies to gracefully throw themselves up in the air, I was in awe. It seemed that they could fly and I imagined myself flying like them. I imagined myself pulling off giants, swinging until I was ready to let go and take off. And when I finally tried, the feeling I got for that one second in the air was freedom, freedom from everything. It was a high, and it was addicting.

I was crazy when I was little. I was the boy parents didn’t want their kids around for fear their child would copy what I did and get hurt. Parents thought I was crazy because I would try tricks that others my age wouldn’t. Some of my coaches said kids my age don’t have the mentality and body discipline to achieve the tricks I could. What most people didn’t realize were the hours I put into learning those tricks. I rehearsed every step over and over until I put them together and my hard work would turn into something great.

This hard work and dedication to be a better gymnast stopped when I moved, and started at a new school. Everything was different, but the biggest change was the absence of a gymnastics gym.

Through that time of settling in, I had to learn a new way of being myself. Like zombies, some classmates dedicated themselves to turning into everyone else, while I really wanted to be, well, me. Gymnastics defined me. At times I felt sucked into being just like everyone else, but I saw that the struggle to be like everyone else makes you forget what makes you unique.

Now I’ve resumed my gymnastics training and am part of a team I can learn from. It’s giving me opportunities to become a better gymnast and more myself. What I have gone through has been tough, but some things stayed the same. I still walk into a gym with 50 foot ceilings. There are still other kids like me ready to learn about this sport, and yes, there’s still the smell of stinky feet. As a little kid I could only watch entranced as the gymnast flew high in the air. Now that I’m older, it’s my time to fly.

The strength of a linebacker, and the grace and beauty of a ballerina ... this is what makes me a gymnast.

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This article has 1 comment.

Mamie said...
on Nov. 6 2016 at 8:21 pm
You are so good at this I feel the same way gymnastics is my favorite thing to do and I'm now a big fan of you❤️️

on Dec. 28 2011 at 7:49 pm
beautifulspirit PLATINUM, Alpharetta, Georgia
35 articles 0 photos 1401 comments

Favorite Quote:
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
--Eleanor Roosevelt

I love the last line: "The strength of a linebacker, and the grace and beauty of a ballerina..." Stay true to yourself---that's a message we could all take to heart.

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