Zoe, the Champion

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Winning is so much fun!

And this past weekend, JAG Gym kids had an awful lot of that fun…

Thirty times individual JAG athletes took the gold, standing at the top spot of the podium. 94 other times JAG kiddos were on either the silver or bronze spot.  (That equals 124 medals  for those playing along–quite a haul!)

Additionally, two of our levels won the over-all team award for the highest score in their division.

And, as a cherry on top of what was already a substantial sundae, one of our athletes received an almost perfect score on her floor routine.

I was able to attend part of the competition this weekend and loved seeing the progress of the girls, and the pride in their faces and those of their parents and coaches.  It felt great to hear the judges and other coaches compliment our team.  And I had to smile when I overheard a parent from another gym say, “Oh JAG is here…their kids are so good and always look so happy.”

As I sat on a mat, proudly watching the final awards ceremony of the weekend, I realized that despite averaging almost a 9.0 on all of her events, one of our athletes, Zoe, was going to miss medaling on any event.  As it happened, Zoe is in an insanely difficult age grouping and even with her strong scores and consistent all-around performance, she fell short of an award by mere fractions of a tenth of a point.  So, despite her best personal performance at this level, Zoe was going to go home empty handed.

To add insult to injury, every other JAG teammate who competed all of the events in that session was going to win at least one ribbon or medal.

All, except for Zoe.

That’s a hard lesson for a 10 year-old kid.

Nonetheless, Zoe sat there, applauding with great zeal, as each of her teammates names were repeatedly called to come up and receive their awards.  She hugged her friends in celebration when they returned to sit with the team.  When the final awards for her age group were announced, I watched closely, concerned that Zoe would be upset.  While a small flicker of disappointment flashed across her tiny face, Zoe kept cheering on her friends.  With total enthusiasm, Zoe went up on the podium with her team to accept their first place team award with her chin held high and remained on the floor after the meet to take pictures with her teammates.

Not a single tear shed.

Not a bit a jealousy or pouting.

Nothing but total support for her team and pride in her friends.

Sure, I could sense she was disappointed.  Zoe is a competitive athlete who trains hard and wants to win.  But Zoe did not let her personal disappointment in not placing cloud her pride in her achieving her personal best score at this level or her joy in contributing to the first place team victory.

The mother in me wanted to cry.

The teacher in me wanted to cheer.

124 medals, two giant trophies and a nearly perfect score were all distant seconds to that moment of class, dignity and sportsmanship by this incredible 10 year-old girl.

She might not have gotten to stand on the podium this time around, but this I know for sure: Zoe is a champion.

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Zoe, her teammates, coaches and me in a group hug after the meet.

To protect her privacy, I won’t say which child she is.   But I will tell you, she is smiling!