Battle in Bellevue – February 22, 2015

At this point in the season, we, my mom and I, had given up. We had considered gymnastics a wonderful character building activity where we were partners with some like-minded adults trying to make strong, confident young women who just happened to be great gymnasts.

The week between Queen of Hearts and Battle in Bellevue changed all that. We learned a lot about the coaches that week and we have changed our entire approach to this activity. But the most amazing thing that happened, after arguing with the coaches about how they don’t tell us or her enough, they actually told her what her options were on her floor routine and let her choose (yes, let HER CHOOSE) what she did out on the floor ON THE FLY! And she got her best floor score of the season! But more on that in a moment.

First – I want to post a (very blurry) picture of the opening ceremonies. It was pretty cool, they dimmed the lights and the girls were given light-up head bands to wear. Plus, the meet was sponsored by Harley Davidson!

Oh, and by the way, this convention center was horrible for photos. The light seemed okay to the human eye but the camera did not like it. She moves the littlest bit and she’s blurry. Plus, the beam was buried in the middle of the space they’d laid out so no matter where you stood, there was an event (and, therefore, several gymnasts from other gyms) in between you and the beam. So – no great vault or beam photos this meet.

Now we’ll talk more about floor. I was so nervous during her warm-up, she kept falling on her butt when she was warming up her front pass. But when she did her routine, she nailed her front pass and she scored her highest floor score of the season – 9.175. She even got medal for this, 7th place.

But I was so amazed by her nailing her front pass that I asked her about it. It ends up her coach actually told her (this is all we wanted: communication) that she should decide between a tuck and a pike on her front pass based on how she felt about her full turn. If she felt she hit her full turn and would get credit for a B-skill, she should do a tuck on her forward pass so she wouldn’t fall on her butt, that’s what she did. I went from amazed to stunned since that meant her coaches had actually talked to her.

After floor was, as always, vault… which I thought might yield some cool pictures because we were so close to the vaulting area. Alas, the muted light worked against me and all the pictures were blurry. In fact, the camera didn’t even want to take very many pictures because it couldn’t get anything focused in the low light… Oh, and this was one of those meets where I was just shaking my head. How was that an 8.8 vault performance? It looked the same as last week to me. Oh well.

Next: bars. She must have gotten that notorious cast because she got a 9.275 – now that’s more like it. That got her the only other medal she got – also a 7th place finish.

Still crappy photos, though. I was close but the lighting is so weird. I guess it is what it is.

Finally, beam. I could not find an angle for beam that didn’t have gymnasts who were waiting to go on bars or gymnasts who were waiting to go on floor. She does such amazing things on that beam but I just don’t feel like this meet’s beam photos capture that magic. I think last week’s photos capture the magic of beam much better even though she fell.

I don’t think she fell this time. I am only guessing since the man taking the official meet photos stepped right in front of me as she was doing her back handspring. Once I got to a new location where I could see her, she was way past that point, so it didn’t seem like she’d had time to fall and climb back up. Her score also seems to reflect no falls – 8.350. She wobbles a lot on turns and on her balance poses, each wobble is a deduction, so a low 8 is a good, solid, stayed-on-the-beam score for her.

So she ended with an all-around score of 35.6 which was ninth place, so she didn’t medal in all-around. It was a tough meet but it was so good to see her do well.

We got so upset with the coaches between last meet and this one when all the little things we’d seen all season suddenly added up and made us realize how much they dismiss Em’s hard work at gymnastics. She isn’t gifted like some others so they didn’t really plan for her to move up to level 8 (as evidenced by a roster at a previous meet that had her name but not the other two, since – apparently – the coaches thought the other two would be 8s by that meet) and they also don’t think she can handle the hard moves (as evidenced by them removing the moves instead of working with her to do them better). So I admit that I was pleased to see her be the only one of the “little” level 7s to even medal at this meet. And she was just getting warmed up. Just wait until I post how she did at State Championships (and you have to wait 2 more weeks).

However, I doubt the coaches will take her any more seriously. In fact, I may get in trouble, and get my kid in trouble, for even talking this candidly about my frustrations this season. But I still hope that at some level they do want to become better coaches and may finally be able to see what potential they have and the gym has if they just explain their thinking and take some suggestions under consideration. I doubt it but now I know what to watch for and I will notice if they just continue to dote on their “star gymnasts.”

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