When my children first began playing sports I naturally assumed they would be the best. However, the reality was much different.
Growing up I was a top athlete without even trying. I ran track/cross country (not the coolest sport to say the least) and for some unknown reason I had a natural knack to win, or finish in the top few places. I didn’t spend a lot of time training, much to the annoyance of my coaches. It was not unheard of that I would cut the corners during practice, or not even show up; I was the queen of lame ass excuses. However on race day I was there to win, and normally I did.
Fast forward to the birth of my children. I have one son who is not a natural athlete and has zero desire to participate in any sports. We tried them all; basketball, football, soccer, swimming and in the end he proved to be the kid picking dandelions, or warming the bench. He had no natural competitive spirit and would much rather be at a museum than on a field. I have another child, a daughter, who is more adept at athletics. She inherited her father’s hand eye coordination (thank god, because running does not involve any actual hand eye coordination) and overall loves sports, but gymnastics is her favorite.
Initially I assumed she would be the next Olympic Champion. I mean why not? She showed a great interest and ability at the age of three and naturally this aligned with all the other great athletes. I pictured myself in the stands rooting her on to numerous 10.0 scores, the clanking of five medals around her neck from every meet, and trophies galore. Where were we even going to store all the bling she would bring home?
Well she is not an Olympic Champion. She spent two years on Level 3 and this year moved up to Level 4. Unfortunately, however she was sidelined with an injury for for most of the season, leaving her to compete in only two meets. She did not fare all too well in the first meet in October and then her most recent meet, four months later, was her second time out strutting her stuff.
I thought I was prepared for anything to happen, but I wasn’t.
She started on beam, not her best skill. I held my breath in anticipation. She gracefully ascended the beam and completed her first pass down the equipment. But shit went south quickly when she missed two key skills, falling off the beam each time. She ended with a 7.225, a score that would upset most gymnasts, but not my daughter. She smiled and sat down with her teammates, happy to be competing again.
Her next two events were not much prettier. She did a bizarre handstand walkover move on the vault, and landed it less than impressively. Thank god they get to go twice and the judges take the best score. The floor routine looked good to me, but apparently I don’t know shit because she scored a 7.350 on it. I couldn’t even tell you what she did wrong, I actually had thought she was going to get somewhere in the 8’s with the routine. Obviously I am no expert.
She had one event left, uneven bars. Before the meet she didn’t even know if she could compete them since she was having difficulty with the one required skill, the kip. However, during warmups she was able to get it and her jump to the high bar, so her coaches gave her the nod of approval. She turned to me, gave me the biggest smile and two thumbs up. She was so excited. The coaches put her first up to compete for the team, no doubt to get it over with before her nerves got the best of her.
I sat on the edge of my chair, very aware of how ugly this event could be.
She came out, saluted the judges, and assumed the opening required move, the kip. Using all her strength she was able to complete the skill in one move, not very gracefully but it was done. Next up was her move from low bar to high bar. She got up in her crouching tiger (apparently this is called a squat on) move and jumped to the high bar. I held my breath, worried she would miss it, but she didn’t. Her hands grasped the bar and she held on tight. I was so happy for her. She still needed to do a long hang kip. This move basically requires her to pull herself over the top bar, but it was not meant to be. Instead of a graceful pull over the top bar she swung back and forth, flailing like clothes on a clothesline on a windy day.
What happened next though is the shit that makes me so damn mad I didn’t record her performance, because this was one for the history books. As she swayed back and forth on the bar it became very obvious she would not be able to haul her body up and over the bar. An intervention was necessary. Cue her 4’10 coach for a mid-event rescue. Her coach valiantly tried to jump/push her over the bar, but was unable to reach up high enough to provide a proper assist. Next up was the addition of the tallest teammate. The two of them were jumping up and down trying to push my child, by her ass, over the bar. It was quite a sight, and to be honest down right hysterical. She scored the lowest number of the whole meet, a 5.950, securing her spot in last place for her age division.
But regardless of the score, or the lack of bling, I couldn’t have been prouder of her performance because through it all she smiled. She held her head up high, and she laughed with her friends on the sidelines. She was having fun, and that is all I wanted for her. She was excited to be back out with her teammates and part of the group.
It’s not how well you compete, it’s how well you handle yourself, and she is truly a gold in my book.
A special thank you to Katrina Jackson Photography for taking these pictures of my daughter in action!