I love this time of year! In our state, this is the beginning of the competition season for gymnastics. Each year the group of Level 4s I coach gets cuter and cuter and while it is so nerve wracking, I just love the first meet.
For those of you unfamiliar with competitive gymnastics, Level 4 is the entry level for competition in most gyms. Level 4 gymnasts are primarily 6-12 year olds and for most of them this is the first time they have competed or performed in front of an audience.
This afternoon my Level 4s will arrive at the gym (the first meet is a home meet, thank goodness) decked out in their new competition leotards and warm up suits. They all had their hair done in identical styles last night at practice and they will be looking so cute.
Our group is big this year – we have 19 girls on the Level 4 team, so they will be split into two groups – which is fine since we have two coaches. Only 5 of the 19 girls have ever competed before and all but 5 are ages 6, 7 or 8 so it should be fun. With the little ones it is always interesting to see who will remember their routine, who will not, who will fall on a random skill and who shines when the pressure is on. Basically coaching young level 4s in a meet is like going the craps table in Vegas – you just don't know what the outcome will be on any turn.
You would think after all these years of coaching (23 to be exact) that I would not get nervous, but I do. It is more of an excited nervous, but I do sweat out every single beam routine, watch every floor routine with care, anticipate every vault and am there just in case on bars. You would never know it though! I am calm and cool on the outside – to keep my gymnasts focused and relaxed.
The best part about this first meet is the amazing transformation that happens to these young athletes after they have competed in their first meet. The little girls go from being girls who take gymnastics lessons to being GYMNASTS. Practices take on new meaning, the camaraderie among their team mates strengthens, and their self confidence soars.
Tonight I am a coach, then Sunday afternoon I get to swap hats and be a parent as my own daughter kicks off her 4th season competing. And that is a post for later this weekend…