Reflections From the First Meet of the Season

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For many gymnasts, this past weekend marked the first weekend of the competitive season for USAG compulsories.

And our club was among those for whom this was true.

The morning of the first day of competition, our director of the compulsory program, a coach with over twenty years of coaching experience, posted this on her Facebook wall:

“As I head into competition season, I reflect on years past and see that my girls are the most diverse group of athletes I’ve ever worked with, diverse in personality and ability. So while our success as a team might not be measured by the podium, it will certainly be measured by each individual’s triumphs along the way. Passion and joy for the sport is what they all do have in common and I’m excited and proud to be part of their athletic journey. In comparison to my 20 year-old coaching self and philosophy, I can say I have a very different view on what it means to be successful. Yes I like to win more than most, but I’ve changed my definition of winning over the years. I like where I am sitting as this coach, with these girls at this gym that I love. I wish my girls a great first competition and hope they know how proud I am!”

There is really nothing more for me to add except this: I am one lucky club owner to work with a coach who get what the point of this incredible sport is for ALL children.

Some of our girls walked away with medals, others with personal bests and still others with the hard message that more time needs to be spent working through their routines. Yet each girl knows that the coaching staff and their parents are proud of the hard work and the effort that it took them to get to this place. They keep hearing the message that the results are far less important in the big picture than the lessons they are learning on this journey and the knowledge that they have parents and coaches who support them taking risks and going for their dreams.

That is what youth sports should be about, especially at these very beginning levels: the development of skills, the opportunity to “play the game” and the chance to manage the thrill of accomplishing a goal and the disappointment of coming up short. It does not need to be about being the very best but rather striving to be one’s very best version of oneself and learning valuable life lessons along the way. In time, should young athletes rise in the ranks and develop into a more elite training track, there will be plenty of time to worry about rankings. But at least at these beginning stages, we would be wise to let them focus on the process and not the product.

Besides, there is another meet in two weeks and another opportunity to try again!