Today: Jul 13 , 2020

Tumbling to the Next Level

29 January 2008  
For some, it was their first opportunity to experience competition on a new level. They ran, they jumped and flipped in the air. They danced and tumbled, spun around on bars and did handstands on a 4-inch wide beam.


Overall standings.
For some, it was their first opportunity to experience competition on a new level. They ran, they jumped and flipped in the air. They danced and tumbled, spun around on bars and did handstands on a 4-inch wide beam. These fourteen girls, aged 6-12, were all part of the YMCA's Gymnastic Pre-team; many competing in their first-ever Gymnastics meet, complete with judges, time limits and an audience.


And although the audience mostly consisted of parents and family, it didn't mean that the girls didn't experience the jitters. Sometimes, after making a noticeable mistake, a gymnast might be seen quietly wiping her tears away in frustration. But, when she nailed her routine, her enthusiasm was infectious and her smile was dazzling. 

This was a non-sanctioned meet, scheduled solely for the Pre-team members, to allow them to become comfortable with competing and to determine if they were ready to move up to the next level. John Sebastian, the Director of the YMCA Gymnastics program, set up the meet as an opportunity to judge how these young girls, who practice 2 hours a day, 3 days a week, were progressing. Launie Hone, the coach for the Level 4 Team was also on hand to help the girls and evaluate their skills. 

Sebastian explained the purpose of the meet, "To see who's ready. And also to give them a taste of what it's like to perform in front of a crowd, even though it was just parents. It puts pressure on them. This first time in front of judges, and some of them got very nervous, and some of them handled themselves very well. One of the girls that we thought would be doing horrible, actually did a lot better than we thought she would, and some of the girls that we thought would be really awesome, let the pressure build up a little bit and didn't do as well as we thought." 

After the meet was over, Sebastian spoke to the girls. ""You guys all did an awesome, awesome job today. I saw a lot of amplitude, lifting, all the things we've been talking about. One thing I would like to see more of - more smiles!"

Larissa LaMaster is a 9-year-old who has been on the Pre-team for only about 3 months. She tied for third on the vault, noting that it was her favorite event. When asked what was the hardest event for her, she didn't hesitate. "The beam," she stated.

LaMaster was asked what she thought about the meet. "I learned what a meet was like," she said. "I was nervous and I guess it was a little bit harder for me to compete than I thought it would be. I felt good about how I did, looking at the score I got, which was 28.225. Next time, I'm probably going to be less nervous, but it's going to take a lot of practice for me to get it down."

Sebastian offered his reaction to how the girls did in the meet, "I think they did really, really well. We've been talking a lot about composure, not getting too nervous, holding their chest up, really performing. And it is a performance. What I tell the girls all the time. It's not a matter whether you can do all the tricks, it's how good you look doing all the tricks. And that's really key to placing on podium. I think a lot of the girls really did well with that."

But, the big question of the day was, who moves up? Sebastian answered, "We have two requirements, they have to have a score, and they have to have all their tricks. So, what's going to happen is that they have learn those tricks, now that they've got their score. So that they don't get to that next level and feel like they're way behind everybody else, otherwise it wouldn't be fair to them or the team." Sebastian and Hone planned to sit down and review the judges' notes and video before making a final determination.

LaMaster didn't move up this time around, which she took as a challenge. Just two days later, she demonstrated that one of the tricks she was unable to perform cleanly on Saturday, she had now mastered. "I think I can move up in about two weeks," she told her mom with determined confidence.

Sebastian smiled with satisfaction as he saw the girls working so hard to master the tricks that had caused them problems during the meet. "See, it won't take long," he murmured. 

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Lynne LaMaster

Lynne LaMaster is the Founder of the eNewsAZ Network of websites. She will be leaving for new adventures on May 15, 2020.