Gymnastics stretches athletes’ skills


Eva Ducroux

Sophmores Lexie Engelman (left) and Leila Allen (right) train at the Broderick Gymnastics Academy. Due to the variety of events that gymnasts participate in, they must master many aspects of the sport.

Jeremy Suh, Staff Writer

Gymnastics, although it may look graceful, is nothing short of exhausting. The high school gymnastics team is a tight-knit community. Through dedication to the sport and forming powerful bonds with teammates and coaches, the team feels that gymnastics has taught them valuable lessons about life. Not only is gymnastics a unique sport, but it has a strong impact on its athletes.

The sport is broken down into four events: floor (dancing and tumbling), vault (running towards and flipping off a spring), beam (performance on a narrow beam), and bars (moving between uneven bars). However, because of the variety in events, a gymnast needs to be fit all around.

According to gymnastics coach Jerri McMannis, gymnasts have to be athletically proficient in various areas.

“You need great core strength, strong legs, cardio and flexibility because [gymnastics] involves a lot of swinging, jumping, flying through the air and sprinting quickly,” McMannis said.

While the need to excel in various athletic aspects might intimidate people, sophomore Leila Allen said that gymnastics is about progressions and building skills slowly.

“You start with the basics. You start with cartwheels, full turns, roundoffs, etc. And then you get more advanced,” Allen said. “Once you get a roundoff, for example, you can connect that to a back handspring.”

According to sophomore Niovi Rahme, gymnastics also helps her see the full width of her potential.

“When you realize you can do so many things in your life that you didn’t know you were capable of, you get a newfound sense for working your hardest and knowing you can do as much as you set your mind to,” Rahme said.

McMannis thinks the best part of gymnastics is how the skills learned can complement daily life.

“[Gymnastics] requires you to prioritize things in your life. You learn how to get things done in a short time frame. A lot of gymnasts are perfectionists, given the nature of the sport. So it gives you a very critical eye on the work that you do,” McMannis said.

The positives surrounding the sport do not stop there. According to Allen, being diligent and the process of continuing to improve can be very rewarding.

“I love the feeling after getting a new skill; when all your hard work pays off you finally get it. It’s instant satisfaction,” Allen said. “It’s such a good feeling. That’s why I do it.”   

While gymnastics is an individual sport, McMannis stresses the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship.

“Gymnastics teaches you that you are important, but also your team is important. You have to learn how to step up, but sometimes learn to step back. Sometimes what is better for the team is when you are a sideline supporter,” McMannis said.

According to Rahme, gymnastics has many striking similarities with day-to-day reality and has helped her mature into a better person.

“It’s the same thing with life,” Rahme said. “You’ll have terrible days, you’ll have awesome days and some days in between. But it’s about what you learn from it.”