Gymnastics, it was fun while it lasted…

And so it ends…

3 years ago Molly started taking gymnastics for fun. Participation in a home school gymnastics class was all it took. She was ‘discovered’ and encouraged to try out for the ‘team’. Even though she’d only been taking gymnastics for a couple months and didn’t have the skills they saw something in her they liked.
Her first ever attempt at a round off back hand spring was at the Level 4 tryouts 3 years ago.

The rest is history. She made the team on heart and ability. The rest would come with training.

She worked her tail off and by the time meet season rolled around did very well. She finished very well. Exceptionally well for someone that didn’t have a couple years of experience, and she did well enough to get moved to level 5. Skill wise she was ready, emotionally, probably not.

CGA/Gymnastics transformed Molly. It brought her out of her shell and gave her a confidence she probably never would have gained any other way.
She met lots of friends and generally loved every minute of it. Her results at the end of her first year in level 5 were acceptable. Not great but not bad either. Towards the end we could tell that she really wasn’t giving it her all. She did at practice but during meets she was nervous and just going through the motions. She had thoughts of quitting. I think the season was tough for her, and on her, she didn’t score as well as she’d hoped. 10’s are very rare, heck, 9.5’s are very rare and I think she expected them every time.

We encouraged her and explained to her that she was ‘gifted’. She has ‘it’. It’s rare that kids get to find their knack and she had found hers. Many parents try to will their kids to be good at something; Baseball, Football, or Soccer. I’m not saying it can’t be done. Through hard work anything can be done, but it’s certainly comes easier for them when it’s their ‘thing’.

Gymnastics do come naturally for Molly. She generally doesn’t have to work as hard as other kids to obtain new skills. They just come.

This year started out well. The coaches decided she needed to repeat level 5. In hindsight I think that was a mistake. She may not have been ready emotionally, but she wasn’t ready for level 4 either. She may not have scored as well as the coaches wanted in level 5 but she was still in the top half of the team or better.

I think the boredom killed her passion. The stress that these little girls are placed under to compete and score well is immense. Some get it, others don’t. Those that do, well it’s not easy to cope with when your 8, 9 or 10 years old.
They work hard, 12+ hours a week (3 hours a day 4 times a week) conditioning and polishing their routines at the gym and that doesn’t include all the gymnastics she does around the house or open gym. Two years of doing the same thing is a long, long time.

Molly started the year with some personal goals in mind. Her vault in level 5 was the one thing that really held her back. Had those scores been a point higher she probably would have made level 6 and I wouldn’t be typing this.

But the fact is she did repeat level 5. (Repeating level 4 or 5 is not uncommon). She worked through the preparation season twice. Day in and day out doing the same thing, the same work outs, the same exercises and routines. I’m not knocking the coaches. They do what they can to keep it fun and exciting but it’s still not enough.
Her first meet this year went OK. She finished 7th in the overall which all things considered is good. But that’s not Molly’s style. She was used to podiums from level 4. She vaulted well, got robbed on Bars and floor. Had a huge routine on Beam and scored well even with a fall.

Her 7th place finish stressed her a bit. We could see she was getting her nervous ticks again’. The only time we’d ever seen those from her was during competition last year. She tweaks her neck, and raises her eyebrows. We can clearly tell when she’s stressed.

She had wanted to quit last year but we encouraged her to finish what she started. Persevere, get it done. It wasn’t time to quit just yet.

Last week we realized she had done that. She had done everything we had asked of her. If she wasn’t enjoying it anymore there really is no need to continue. We had given her permission to quit a couple weeks ago but she wasn’t ready. She didn’t want to let down the team or her coaches. “They are counting on my scores”, she said (and they do).

Last week was the breaking point, and she decided she was ready. One more meet, one more competition to get a good vault score, something she’d worked so hard on all year. We agreed she could quit after the Coaches Spectacular meet and she was very relieved.

Then came Friday and she turned up with a fever and the flu. It wasn’t fun for her. She was equally sick on Saturday and we decided she needed to stay home. She couldn’t compete, she didn’t have the energy.

Sunday morning she awoke somewhat refreshed and begged Claudine to take her to the meet. She had something to prove to herself. She needed to get a 9 on Vault. Then she was done.

She got an 8.800, which scored her 6th on Vault. Only two girls got 9’s and 9.200 was the top score. She finished 3rd overall for her age group and that was good enough. Mission accomplished.

Right about now she’s informing her coach that she’s done. She wants to continue doing the gymnastics things she likes and CGA has a class for that. Tumbling and Optional skills. Will she ever compete again? Who knows?. Maybe there will be a coaching change at CGA, maybe something will trigger her passion again. Then again maybe not. We’ll enjoy having her around much more often.

We are proud of Molly, she really is awesome. Here is a guide about cheap treadmills by

The 2008 Meet Season is upon us.

It started yesterday with the Queen City Classic. CGA faired better than most as usual.

This is Molly’s 2nd year in Level 5. We’re expecting great things. She had a pretty good meet, finishing 7th overall out of 21 in her age bracket. She had a rough go at beam, got robbed on Bars, and floor. Not sure what the judges were looking for. Both of her routines were about as good as they get and would have scored better last year.

On the upside, she hit a personal high on vault.

I didn’t take as many photos as I usually do, but they are posted in the Google/Picasa Gallery. I did grab a few of Allison, our car pool partner.

Some other candids and actions shot of other gymnasts are included as well.