Let’s Pretend! Be a Gymnast for a Day
I’ve always liked gymnastics. When I was seven, I pretended the lines on our living room rug was a balance beam. I spent countless hours on my backyard trampoline, yelling every few minutes, “Hey, Mom, watch this!”
I’m sure she got tired of it. I never did.
I remember the day she came home and told me she could finally enroll me in gymnastics. Nothing excited me more. I squealed like the little girl I was. My dream had literally come true. I had the coolest mom ever. (Still do.)
But my stint in gymnastics was short-lived. The company closed. Life went on.
But I still had my trampoline, that old rug and my imagination, so on countless occasions I competed against the best — Nadia Comaneci my inspiration. I wasn’t alive during the 1976 Olympics, but more than a decade later, people were still talking about her perfect score.
Little did I know in the far, far future in 2012 I would have the opportunity to visit a gymnastics training center that has been home to several Olympians — the most recent being 2004 Olympians Terrin Humphrey and Courtney McCool. This year, Sarah Finnegan, who currently trains at the Gage Center in Blue Springs, is in London as an alternate on the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team.
During my brief visit, it became clear that gymnastics is more than just a hobby for those training at the Gage Center. It’s their passion. For some, it’s their life. The girls I met were all equally capable of defying gravity in a single leap. I was fascinated, almost spellbound, watching Brenna Dowell swing flawlessly over the uneven bars. She made it look so easy, I had to wonder, does she know how extraordinarily awesome she is? I learned later that she’s been in gymnastics since she was 18 months old, so for her, flying through the air literally comes natural to her.
Being in the company of such stellar gymnasts, I had to know: all those years spent tumbling in my backyard — the cartwheels, roundoffs, toe-touches — how good was I? I asked the younger girls to rate my cartwheel (a unanimous 10). As for my roundoff? Well, they politely clapped after I nearly crashed into them.
Such gracious girls. They were awesome. I feel indebted to them and others: Karla Grimes, Gage Center general manager, Tiffany Davenport, gymnastics coach, and my employer for letting me pretend to, yet again, be a superstar gymnast.
Let the 2012 Olympics begin!