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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gymnastics, Gymnastees, Gymnicetics

I am well aware of the fact that the majority of the population doesn't get gymnastics.  I am well aware that the majority of my friends don't get gymnastics.  I am also well aware of the fact that I cannot ever make someone understand my passion for this sport.  Only those people who have a true passion for something - anything - can truly understand.  If I could, I would live and breathe the sport. If I could spend my life in the gym - minus the time that I want/need for my family - I would. 

I don't think most people understand the benefits of the sport and the work those kids do and how unforgiving it is.  I know a lot of people who read this aren't going to have a clue about what I'm talking about and I will try to explain.  I think that gymnastics is probably one of the absolute most unforgiving sports out there - save maybe figure skating - and I still think gymnastics is worse.  This morning, while most of you were sleeping, a highly talented, intelligent, all around amazing young woman from DeWitt, Michigan won gold at the World Championships for All Around.  Jordyn is 16 years old.  Jordyn won by .05.  That's not much. 

I had the blessing of coaching in the same gym where Jordyn normally trains.  I had the privilege of watching her go from a little tiny mass of muscle at 9 years old when I first saw her to the amazing young woman she is now.  But I digress, this blog isn't about Jordyn (although you would all do well to either yahoo or google search her and read about her).

I was talking about it being unforgiving.  If you haven't seen the movie Stick It, you should rent it.  It's a cute movie and points out some of the deductions the girls get in competition.  For example, the bra strap hanging out, or not hitting a perfect handstand while swinging around the bars, or stepping out of bounds on floor.  You also have no idea the pain these kids go through.  Try running full speed at a vaulting table only to miss the spring board and smash into the table instead of going over it.  How about doing a simple skill on beam like a split jump and missing the landing so that you end up "crotching" the beam. Let's not forget their hands - the endless bleeding blisters from swinging around the bars and the face plants on the mat when you miss the bar after a release move.

Out of all of that (and so much more....the wrist bone sticking out of your arm after missing the beam on a backhandspring and the broken ankle for landing a tumbling pass wrong) arises the most amazing group of kids - young adults - that you will ever come across.  These kids define discipline and respect.  Do they think they are better than you?  Maybe a chosen few of them, but for the most part, these kids are humble. 

I watch some of the school sports practices on occasion and want to laugh.  All of the parents bitching that "these kids are only 4th/5th graders" or there's no need to push yet, they're only 13 makes me roll my eyes.  I had 5 and 6 year olds busting their asses and crying their eyes out in the gym.  Did their parents bitch?  No.  Why?  Discipline and respect.  If any of my kids had EVER spoken to me the way I hear these kids in (insert sport here) soccer, football, basketball, baseball, cross country, track, volleyball, cheerleading talk to their coaches, I can promise you, they would only do it once. 

Maybe that's part of the reason I keep going back to the gym - well, other than the fact that I absolutely love it - I like the discipline and respect.  I don't ever have to worry about obnoxious snotty kids or whiney parents. 

Bottom line - I love gymnastics (and my all time favorite gym in the world is Twistars) and I love every last one of the gymnasts - past and present.

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget the hands taped and bandaged so you look like a refugee from a Beirut bombing. Or the bruises from those 'crotch plants.' Those kids never give up. They fall, they get back up and do it again. Those with broken limbs continue working out on the skills that don't require the injured limb.
    You have that discipline. I sat with gym parents for a long time. They don't gripe about the coaches. They just cheer their kids on. But they form a special bond that lasts a lifetime.
    Gymnastics is probably the only sport...save maybe figure skating...that teaches the discipline. I fully understand it as its discipline transfers into the athletes entire life.

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