Back in early Summer 2017 I began my transition into becoming General Manager here at Elite Gymnastics & Aquatics. Getting to this point has been a loooooooooong road, and recently I've been kind of looking back at how getting here even happened!
My gymnastics career began back in 1999 when my parents signed me up for basketball camp at Dale's Athletic Club. We were stretching as a group and when they told us to sit in a straddle and reach forward, I did something sort of like this....
The teacher looked over at my Dad and laughed, saying "I've never seen anyone able to do that before...". Pretty soon thereafter it was decided that my basketball days were over (my dad and mom are 5'4" and 5'2"....) and I was put in gymnastics. Not long after that we were recommended to Elite!
After several months of recreational classes I was invited to try out for team. Back then, Level 4 was more like the current Level 3 and the Xcel program didn't exist, so I started out competing at Level 4. Gerald was quickly introduced as our Bars coach and if you know Gerald at all then you know he didn't waste any time putting us to work. I have a very distinct memory of walking over to bars with my team and Gerald shouting "First thing - 10 PERFECT pullovers. Go!" I don't even think I knew his name yet.
That year was one of my favorites at Elite. I had an incredible team and two great coaches. Our team worked really hard and we managed to go the entire season undefeated. We won so often that I'm not sure we really appreciated what it meant to win the State Championship, but some of us came to appreciate it much more the following year!
Some time after State, our coach left for another gym and half the girls on our team chose to follow her. Can't really blame them because she really is an incredible coach and I was lucky to get to work with her while I did, but leaving Elite was never an option for me or my parents. So now, the team that had gone undefeated had been split in half and was competing against each other...
Well that season, we won every meet we went to... except the ones our old teammates were at. Then we came in 2nd. It was a pretty defeating season and when it came time for State, Gerald and Terri (our new coach) told us they didn't think we could win. To this day Gerald swears he was just trying to motivate us but I really don't think anyone thought we would.
We went to State a few weeks later and I didn't have the best meet. I fell on beam on a STRAIGHT JUMP... and then when I was the last kid to compete on vault I completely screwed up my first one. I can remember exactly how it felt as Gerald directed me back down the runway, telling me I better get my act together and vault the way I was taught.
Over the years people have said they thought Gerald was too stern, but I've never really felt that way. Gerald has expectations. They are clearly defined and no gymnast or employee ever has to guess as to what they are. In that moment Gerald wasn't yelling at me or saying I was in trouble, he was simply reminding me of his expectations - and they were to run down the runway and perform a front handspring in exactly the same manner as I had done many times before and was perfectly capable of. And sure enough, when I stuck that second vault, I knew I had risen to the level that was demanded of me.
We won the State title for the second year in a row.
It was a great day! I competed for Elite for the next 5 years, some years doing well and others barely competing due to injuries. I ended up "retiring" from club gymnastics before my junior year but I stuck around and practiced with the girls pretty often until I graduated. I had the best teammates who have stood by each other all through high school, college, med school, pt school, marriages and more, and I truly had the most incredible coaches I could have ever asked for. Gerald, Kristi, Candy, Terri, Katja, and Mike were all great influences and they are such big motivation behind my transition into coaching. Kristi and Gerald in particular were and continue to be inspiration for me - the memories I have of working with them make me want to provide the same environment for the girls I work with today that I was so lucky to have growing up.
Elite is my home. These people are my family. And I am so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to return as an adult to the place that has given me so much!
Check back later on to read about how I ended up back here after several years away!