Weekend Gab: Makenna

Part of being a gymnast is learning how to be a good teammate.  But sometimes we learn that we’re part of a bigger team than we think.  Let’s Gab about it!

weekendgabdisneyPhotos | Makenna and her family at the Disneyland Resort & Disneyland after attending Region 1 Championships

Two weekends ago, I (Makenna) attended the Region 1 championships in sunny California. The weather was nice, the food was excellent (thanks AGA), and the competition was fierce. It was a great weekend for our team – four of our level 10’s qualified to Nationals and our level 9 qualified to Westerns (it’s okay that I share my excitement for them, right!?!?). Of course these achievements made for some fun sessions, but it was the Level 8 State team session that stands out most in my mind as it offered our gymnasts a unique perspective on sportsmanship.

In case you are unfamiliar with how level 8 Regionals is run (it’s very similar to level 9/10 Nationals), here’s a quick synopsis: Each state sends their top 12 All Around qualifiers (from State Meet) to represent their “State Team” at the regional competition.  The last session of Level 8  Regional competition is reserved for the 12 qualifying gymnasts from each state to compete, state against state, for the TEAM title. This format provides a unique experience for these athletes: Gymnasts whom they were competing against just weeks before become their teammates and their allies.

As it shaped up this Regionals, 6 of our club gymnasts teamed up with 6 gymnasts from other clubs to represent our state.  Watching the girls unite together to cheer for and learn more about one another got me thinking: It’s interesting how changing “team boundaries” can create immediate camaraderie between athletes!   A slight shift in perspective allowed these athletes to include more individuals into their concept of “us.”  Their interest in other gymnasts’ successes became more genuine as they rallied together for a common goal: Winning the Team Title for their State.

In these upcoming weeks this expanding concept of “team” will happen again but this time for the Level 9s and 10s as they’ll unite with the top members of the Region to create a new identity of “us” at Nationals. And in two short years, the boundaries extend even further, uniting the Nation into one big USA “us” at the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro Brazil. 

Realizing how easy it is to instill a genuine desire for the success of others simply by sharing a common goal (and/or opponent), the ability for all gymnasts to support all other gymnasts doesn’t seem so impossible after all. If anything, it seems quite easy!  My hope for my gymnasts is that they will see that the boundaries of “team” can include every gymnast in the world–for aren’t we all on Team Human? And isn’t our main opponent in gymnastics Team Gravity? When a gymnast lands her full-twisting double-back (no matter what club or country she is from), isn’t it some sort of victory for all Humankind?!  When a gymnast falls off the beam, shouldn’t we all feel sadness that Team Gravity won in that battle? 

Australian Snowboarder, Torah Bright, demonstrated this grander perspective of team during this past Winter Olympic Games on the slopes in Russia. TODAY.com reported her wonderful example of sportsmanship:

Kelly Clark [USA] is an Olympic veteran — but after a bad first run, hugs from her competitor are what helped her get back in the game to win a bronze medal in women’s halfpipe Wednesday night. 
“I was in the worst situation I’ve ever been in in an Olympic final,” Clark, who won gold in Salt Lake City and bronze in Vancouver, told TODAY.com. “I thought I had nothing left to give.” While it was a situation she’d trained for with her coach, Clark was worried that her nerves would get the best of her — and so was her Australian competitor, Torah Bright.
“This girl was a champ for me,” Clark said about Bright, who won silver. “She saw how not in a good place I was and she gave me a hug, let me go, looked at me and said, ‘You actually need another one.’ And so she just held me until I actually calmed down enough and I slowed my breathing. It was good to have a hug from a friend.”

Torah Bright’s response to TODAY.com is one for the wall,

“The Olympics is about inspiring others. I am a competitor — I want to do my best — but I want my fellow competitors to do their best, too. What is the Olympic dream without the best bringing their best to the table?”
(to read all of this article, visit: HERE)

Sporting events can bring out the worst in people, but I believe they can also bring out the best. It is our responsibility to help our gymnasts cheer for themselves, for each other, and for their opponents.  In celebrating successes we can learn that victory doesn’t necessarily come only if someone else fails.  Victory comes when we realize that in someway, somehow we can all be on the same team.  

May we all root for one another and do our best to stack the points in our human-kind favor in the battle of US vs GRAVITY!


|learn more about Makenna here|

2 Responses to “Weekend Gab: Makenna”

  1. Kathleen

    This is a great article! We just returned today from our Region 8 L8 State team competition. You summed up perfectly what I was thinking as I was watching my daughter bond with the other girls. We had a unique situation in that all 8 of the girls were from 8 different gyms, so they all came to the meet feeling a little lost since they didn’t have their usual teammates, but by the middle of the meet they looked like they had been teammates for a long time! And yes, gravity really is the opponent!

    • Makenna

      How fun (& unique) to have all of the girls on the State Team be from different clubs! Thanks for sharing your experience at Regionals!


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