This weekend was the return of the Level 6 gym competition; it was a big day for all three gym girls. Josie was determined to be top of the pile, having had to miss doing Level 5 for this year because a couple of moves just weren’t ready and Amelie, who hadn’t competed for 3 years, thanks to injuries, gym moves and crises, had a point to prove that she was back. Fran had a gymnast competing, who only did a fraction of the hours some of the girls in the group did and it was her first outing as a qualified Level 1 coach too.
And it went well. Josie brought home Bronze on vault and floor (missed gold on floor by 0.2!) and was 4th on beam and bars and Overall Gold too while Amelie brought home Bronze on bars and an accidental extra move sequence probably cost her Gold on floor as her routine was superb. She was very pleased with herself. Fran’s girl did great too.
For me, being part of running Phoenix Gymnastics has shifted my feelings as a gym mum a lot. In the past, there was always a piece of me secretly wishing a fall even on the gymnasts I liked a lot who were up against my girls. It isn’t pretty, but the truth is we all do it, we all want gold for our girl in those early days when we measure our own worth just a little bit too much by contortions they can happen to do with their body on one particular day. This year I have really changed. As a gym we have been on such a journey together, from shock and almost extinction in the face of a nightmare, through learning to work together and keeping up the spirits of the coaches and parents and gymnasts, to finding a way to understand how gymnastics works and learning to run a gym.
What has changed for me this year is I can now start to see the club, not just individuals or – -most particularly – my own girls. I sat in the comp on Sunday and what I wanted was for my whole club to do well, for all those girls to do well – and I didn’t care which Phoenix gymnast beat one of mine, I just wanted to see blue leotard on the podium. Easy to say when mine got to climb up there but I have also learned some truths over 8 years of plenty of comps that were disappointing for my girls as well as for me.
These are they:-
- They are kids, doing the best they can, after working hard towards a day that matters to them far more than it needs to.
- It is just a day, not a measure of talent necessarily, or effort or ability. It can be affected by sleep, nerves, illness and luck.
- There are huge joys from winning. There are huge positives from learning from a bad day too, possibly even more. We humans become who we are by our attitude to disappointment and frustration; it is that which grows us.
- They can only do their best. How good the people are they are up against is outside their control. Measurement against self is the only true guide.
- Gymnastics is just a game, made up of bending body parts. What happens on comp day is no measure of their worth or my parenting. Both those things are better gauged from a training session and how polite they are to their coach each week.
- Neither shiny leotard nor perfect hair make up for lack of commitment or hard work or attention to detail 😉
- I am the parent. It is my job to hug, be proud and love them for the ordeal they just put their mind and body through. It does not make me a better person if they climbed up to get gold. It took me quite a while not to make that mistake.
I’m not one for extravagant moments of gifting but here is my thank you to Verity, who has coached Josie for most of the last year. She has been truly an amazing person for Josie to be alongside this year – I have never seen someone so able to draw something out of my quiet little girl. She has turned a shy child with some talent into a child who lives for gym, has courage and determination and feels confident and valued. Verity never fails to have a good word to say to Josie, is honest, encouraging and dedicated and has been a huge part of making sure Phoenix grows and develops the reputation for great young gymnasts that it is starting to have. This year has been one of my most contented gym coach years ever and I’m deeply grateful to Verity for the start she has given my little girl and the pride she takes in each of them.
Here are some videos for posterity (to be added later when they upload to YouTube!)