Saturday, March 18, 2017

the moments

There are a few stories I want to share about yesterday at the Utah State Meet.  Warning almost none of them have anything to do with the gym parts of gymnastics.
Of course I feel obligated to get the data out of the way Beach did great! All the Little Giants of GTC did well. I would know I was there all day.  Beach and most of her Level 8 mates had an 8 AM start time. Following that was the second Level 8 session. Only one of the GTC mates was competing.  The next session was the 9's, then our 10.  We left around 5 PM as our Level 6's were just beginning. As I get this post together our 7's are taking the floor.

Inside those hours I watched what we are really paying for playout and it has little to nothing to do with scores or medals. 

Story 1.  CW and the Biggest Bar.

CW is a mate of Beach's who was injured in a freak-fall while working bars shortly after the pre-season meet back in December.  She has been unable to work many events as she healed.  She missed almost all of the season meets.  What CW didn't miss was any gym.  She trained, often one handed beside her team. 

We have heard from other gym parents that our gym handles injuries different than the other local gyms.  That it is exceptional that our coaches still coach & train them and that they remain part of the team.

I think the difference is that we don't have injuries at GTC we have young women who sometime get injured, in & out of gymnastics, but their worth is not defined by their injuries. They aren't simply seen as their limitations, they aren't their disabilities. They are THEM: varied, unique young woman. Each valued as a whole person. 

Now there are a lot of rules that I'm not going to trouble you with, mainly because I might get them wrong.  But what I do know is that CW needed to have hit a specific All Around score to use to ask the State Board to let her compete State without having to do bars but move on to Regionals anyway where she would finally be able to return to bars. 

Unfortunately, the one All Around CW had from the pre-season meet was not quite high enough.  She entered State Meet with a question only she could answer: was she willing to try to compete an event she was injured on and hadn't fully practiced in months hoping to do well enough to give herself a chance to make Regionals?

Her answer was YES.  As a parent these are the moments you are not prepared for.  The moments when you watch your child go beyond what you as a parent would ask of them.  When a child reaches deep into the adult they will become and pulls themselves forward.

Looking scared but determined CW competed a bar routine.  It was missing a few key elements but it was clean.  And powerful leaving the moms all in tears.  And it was enough to get her without being granted special allowances her own ticket to Regionals.

Story 2.  The Spot Above First Place.

Last year a young gymnast joined our gym and our team fleeing an abusive coach.  Yes, that is a real a thing.  You don't hear me talk about it because it isn't a "thing" for us at GTC.  And yet even in some of our sister gyms we hear and see things that make you wonder why good, loving parents would choose to expose their children to such toxicity.  A coach's job is to train, to lead, to push, and to protect your child.  At no point should any of those parts of their job conflict with one another. 

This young girl only spent a season with us.  The drive to our gym was huge for the family.  After the news that the abusive coach had moved on she returned to her "home" gym to compete Level 9 this year.  From a distance we have watched her and she seems to be struggling a little.

Yesterday she entered State Meet as 1 of only 2 girls competing from her gym that session.  We kept an eye on her as she competed.   Not all her events went well.  The 2 girls were pretty stoic beside their coach.  It's hard to competed in such a small group.

By the time she rotated to Floor, Beach who was taking photos decided she had had enough of watching her old teammate go at it alone. 

Beach in her GTC jacket slipped under the security ropes planting herself firmly in her friend's corner and began cheering.  Above Beach the girls of yet another team joined in and together they cheered her on. 

You know it's fun to see the photos of your kid on the top of the podium but I would trade all of them for this pic her taking a knee in the spot that is far higher than 1st place.

Now there is a 3rd Story.  It's half about how Beach has missed making the State Team 2 years in a row.  The other half is about the roughness of this sport.

Story 3.  Taking 12 Twice.

The Level 8 State Team is made up of the top scoring 12 girls at State Meet.  As noted Beach has been within reach of the Team for the last 2 years and yet with beam as the last event both years she came off the beam on her series.  Missing her chance to make the State Team.

That's how this sport works.  At State you have 2 jobs: get an All Around score high enough to qualify for Regionals and if you can be in the top 12 to earn a place on the State Team. 

And yet again Beach found herself facing beam as the last event.  This time she stayed on competing the hardest series she has competed in a State Meet by far!

Even with that behind her and a solid All Around score nothing was for sure other than she had qualified for Regionals.

Which yes, it is always a question. Even the most deserving gymnasts can have a bad day and miss the mark for qualifying for Regionals. 

We had a mate not make Regionals last year because of a fall on vault that scored her event as a zero! It was tragic but the scores of the day are all that matter.

What happened yesterday in Beach's Level 8 session after all the medal were handed out the top 12 girls were announced with the caveat that there was another session of Level 8's to follow and some, if not most of those girls called up would lose their spot on the State Team. 

When the parents heard what was about to happen they begged the announcer to not do that to their kids but there was nothing that could be done.  The girls needed to go get sized for Leotards incase their scores held and they actually held onto their spot.

Now while I talked to Beach before she ran off to get sized for a leotard she may never see she had said to me, "Mom, it's okay. I did what my coach asked me to do I made the State Team and I might not have to compete it!"

That" may not have to compete it" clause is about the difference between getting to go to Regionals and run what amounts to a victory lap, verses the stress of trying to be a contributing member of a State Team that usually places dead last in our super competitive region!

What you are looking at is a cropped photo of the line of the first 12 girls. The higher scores to the right of the photo and descending down the line moving left.  Pause.  Pause as the moms of those girls watched the scores in the following session rise; knocking one by one the girls from the end of this line off the State Team. 

The first 12 with Beach standing beside Sophie and Emma
her teammates who have both competed on the State Team in prior years.

I sat with one of our moms who like Beach, had a child called up in the first 12. Together we watched the bar rising.  I watched her as she saw her daughter's score fall below.  And when it was all over there was Beach who started out ranked 4th and she was now rank 12th. 

In that first photo Beach is facing and exchanging congratulations with the girl who became the alternate for the State Team.  Beach is the end of the line.  And when they made the announcement of the final placements for State Team she was called up as ranking 12th followed by the other girls called out only by name.

Beach looking a little overwhelmed there at the end of the line. Her teammates farther up the line looking back at her. Beach looking like she doubted she really belonged up there.  Looking from the back of the pack ahead to the hard moments she will face at Regionals she mouthed the words out across the crowd of watching parents, "I almost got out of it."

And for now that is the end. Of course there will have to be a second half of that story.

So, I spent all day yesterday watching them.  Watching the Little Giants soaring.  At the end I took Beach and her mate Payton home.  The chased rabbits in the field.  They climbed in the treehouse. Beach taught her friend how to shoot a bow.  They built a fire and roasted marshmallows.  Ate a plate of vegetables and later a pile of chopped lettuce toped with hot taco meat.  At dark they hauled blankets out to the trampoline and watched movies on the lap top until Payton's mom arrived to take her home. 

These moments slip away so fast. In that moment, Payton was 11 years old.  She spent her day competing Level 9 at the Utah State Meet. And she became the State Beam champion. She learned how to shoot a bow and start a fire. Today she is 12.

These are their moments.  This is what we pay for. We pay to let them be the best THEM the can be.

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