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Tumbling Machine

March 16, 2009

greensboro091My daughter is a beast when it comes to tumbling.


I haven’t written a lot about her skills, because I just don’t like to sound like one of those moms, but man, I am proud of her. I think I am proudest of the commitment she has to this sport at the age of ten—a commitment that a lot of people will have when they’re in their teens and beyond. She trains, without complaint, four days a week, two and a half hours per day. Practice takes her away from time spent being a kid—unwinding in front of the television, or playing in the yard after school, or just reading a book. She must cram, into the space of the hour and a half that remains after she gets home and before she goes to sleep at night, supper, shower, homework, and the occasional household chore. Practice takes her away from time spent with her cousins at Grandma and GrandDaddy’s farm on Friday evenings, but she troops along, knowing that if she wants to do well at her competitions, there are sacrifices she has to make.


It’s been a bit of a rough year for Autumn, competition-wise. She went from being ranked third in the nation in a couple of events at last year’s Junior Olympics to struggling after having to move up an age bracket and ability level. She’s now competing at a Level 7 and in the 11/12 year-old age division, even though she just turned ten this past December. Ages are split a bit oddly in Trampoline and Tumbling, so that if you turn eleven within the calendar year of 2009, you must compete with the eleven and twelve year-olds, even though all competition ends in July. It’s very frustrating for those whose birthdays fall at the end of the year to deal with…the kids are always lagging behind the others in physical development, up to a point. It’s extremely marked with this particular age division. Autumn, being teeny-tiny to begin with, is a veritable shrimp paired with young women—some of whom who are taller than me (5 feet 2 inches)—and are already quite developed. But anyway—I’m digressing a bit.


With the change in level and age bracket, Autumn has really struggled to hold her own. Part of the difficulty has been confidence. She’s facing giants, after all. The other part is just a lack of focus.  She’s been very distracted by other people voicing distaste over the trampoline’s bounciness, or something not quite right about the floor or double-mini…It was at this point that we sat down and had a long conversation about focusing and the power of visualization and “MTXE,” as Coach used to tell us before we ever stepped out on the volleyball court—“mental toughness, xtra effort.” I don’t usually have these conversations with my kid, because again, I don’t want to be that overbearing “gym mom,” who’s undermining the coach and giving the kid mixed signals and conflicting advice…but I honestly don’t think anyone has ever told her how important it is to see what she wants to achieve happening perfectly in her mind before she ever takes that first running step.


Something sure worked. She was beauty in motion this past weekend at the T&T meet in Greensboro, placing second in floor and sixth in trampoline—both excellent scores considering the number of girls she was competing against. More importantly, you could see the focus and determination in her face, and alongside them both, a newfound confidence.


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