My name is Madi Vanderpool and this is an article about my family and our history with Elite gymnastics and how it all began.
Back in 1995 my parents and my sister Taryn lived in Wamego, KS and one evening my parents took Taryn to a basketball game. For the half-time performance, a gymnastics club called CATTS did an exhibition. My mom thought that since Taryn was quite an active little girl, gymnastics would be a great activity for her and so she signed her up.
The next year my parents and Taryn moved to Lenexa for my Dad’s job. While in Wamego, my Mom worked at a small company with a man named Eric Carley. Eric told my mom that once we moved, we should look into a gym that his brother Gerald owned called Elite Gymnastics.
Taryn started her first gymnastics class at Elite in June of 1996 and the rest I guess is history. Megan was born in August 1996 and also began gymnastics classes as soon as she could walk.
So now Taryn was on the competitive team, & Megan was livin’ it up in rec classes. One Monday, January 8th 2001 to be exact, at 7:30 at night, my mom was in the Labor Center at Shawnee Mission pregnant with her 3rd baby girl. Dad was about to leave the hospital to pick Taryn up from practice, but the doctor told him not to leave quite yet…Less than half hour later, I was born. Don’t worry, Taryn got home safe that night even though Dad never came to pick her up, & that wasn't the last time Taryn, Megan, or I were left at the gym without a ride. We will never let him live that down.
At a young three weeks old, I went to my first gymnastics meet. So when you hear that me and my sisters were born in the gymnastics world, just know that the rumors are true.
Gymnastics has made us physically and mentally strong. It teaches you to manage time and work hard. It teaches you to get back up when you fall, and to never give up. We (as a family) would like to thank Gerald for the hundreds and hundreds of hours that he has spent over the last 20 plus years coaching us five nights a week.
Taryn went on to compete gymnastics in college at SEMO and then to med school. She is now in her residency as an OBGYN in Wichita and is married to her husband Greg. Just a few weeks ago she gave birth to her own little girl (hopefully a future KC Elite gymnast!). For Megan, after gymnastics she was on the track team at K-State as a pole vaulter and is now in Dental School at UMKC. She recently married Miles and still occasionally helps out at Elite with coaching gymnastics. I know that my sisters and I would attribute a lot of our success in life to the skills we learned in gymnastics at Elite. As for me, I'll be heading to Wisconsin this weekend to compete gymnastics for the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse!
I don't know where I would be today without the sport of gymnastics. That being said, I am forever thankful that my mom thought the CATTs tumbling performance at that halftime show was cool and I am also thankful that Gerald’s brother sent my parents to check out the little gym in Lenexa, KS that has become not only my gym but also my second home.
I am so thankful to have met so many amazing people throughout my years at Elite. I have so many memories at the gym that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I also just wanted to say thank you to my parents for supporting me through everything and going to probably about a million gymnastics meets. Also thanks to the rest of my coaches for putting up with me for all this time, and for not killing me even though I’m sure you’ve wanted to at one point or another. I’m thankful for all the life lessons we learn during practice, even the ones that we’ll never use again in our lives. Lastly thanks to my teammates, you guys make 4 hour practices as fun as they can be, and I definitely wouldn’t be who I am without you guys. Love you all :)