Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Gymnastics--Morning, Noon and Night

Most people think we're crazy.  Heck, we even think we're crazy.  But I'm always amused by the look on peoples faces when they hear how many hours our daughters spend in the gym every week.  I am often asked about Alyssa's goals and expectations for her gymnastics future.  "Could she go to the Olympics someday?" is a question I'm frequently asked.  That's when I give my explanation about the odds of becoming an Olympic gymnast.  "Only 5 girls every four years achieve that dream," I usually say.  And those five girls have to be able to avoid injury, be of optimum age during the Olympic year (16), and most importantly, be insanely talented at a ridiculously young age.  So the answer to that question is simple: "No, she is not Olympic bound."

"What about college?  Could she get a scholarship?"  Well yes, she is on track for that possibility, given her age and current gymnastic level, but hers is a sport with so many variables.  Injury, burn out and the difficulty of skills yet to be acquired are variables that make it impossible to predict if Alyssa will become a collegiate athlete some day.  So while it would be wonderful were it to occur, we don't allow ourselves to look too far down that road.

So why do we spend an untold amount of time and money on gymnastics?  First and foremost, Alyssa has a deep love for what she does.  She wouldn't devote 22.5 hours to training every week if she didn't love it.  Second, the lessons learned from goal setting, time management, mental toughness, overcoming weaknesses, development of physical fitness and belonging to a team are skills she will carry with her for the rest of her life, regardless of how long her gymnastics career lasts.  And finally, we do it for the memories like those created on our trip to Texas.

Not only was she able to reap the fruit of her labors by having a successful competition, but she was able to spend time with teammates and was spoiled with Mom and Dad's undivided attention.  These are memories she'll have forever.  Opportunities like this are reason enough to be involved in something such as this, demanding as it is.

Alyssa, Gabby and Maddi--level 8 teammates

Alyssa competed on Friday and on Saturday morning we were back at the convention center to watch her level 10 teammates and later the level 9's.  It's fun to cheer them on while imagining if Alyssa might one day perform their big skills.  

After a quick bite to eat, we settled in for the NCAA meet between Georgia (#8), LSU (#6), Oklahoma (#2), Oregon State (#14) and Washington.  So fun and exciting!

Alyssa with some level 7 teammates; Ariana, Hailey and Emily.

While in the stands we spotted six-time world medalist, Rebecca Bross.  

Lys didn't have paper for an autograph so she asked Rebecca to sign her arm instead.  The ink is still there even after swimming in the hotel pool and many showers.

The Oklahoma Sooners ended up taking home the win.  Guess that's why they are the # 2 team in the nation.

The final event of our gymnastics-filled day was a gymnast party.  Alyssa had a blast with her friends but I thought it was much too unorganized to be deemed a success.

McKayla Maroney was at the party and Alyssa was lucky enough to meet her.

Many of her teammates were not so lucky.  After some frustrations related to the aforementioned disorganization, McKayla unexpectedly left at the exact moment that most of Alyssa's teammates reached the front of the 2-hour long line.  I had them pose in front of her sign and show their best impression of McKayla's famous "not impressed" face.

Yeah, we were not impressed with her disappearing act.

Dinner was supposed to be included but all of the food was gone when I got there and I wasn't even late.  I wasn't impressed with that, either.

But Alyssa loved the candy bar.

And the rock climbing, bounce houses, mini carnival rides and mechanical bull.

The girls posed for some fun pictures in front of the green screen.  And I had to get a shot of Maison and Alyssa together. They look so much alike when they're out on the competition floor, I sometimes can't tell them apart.

The DJ played music and kept the dance party going late into the night.  Somewhere around midnight, Lys and I finally crossed the street to our hotel room and fell into bed.  

So many memories.  So much fun.  What a long and exhausting but wonderful day of gymnastics! 

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