Isaiah has been in gymnastics for the last three years. This year, he qualified to start competing in meets. After attending several meets, he qualified for the state meet and was super excited to attend. He, along with several others from his gym, participated in the meet. In his level, there were two other boys from his gym, both of whom he gets along with beautifully.
The meet started with all the competitors marching into the gym to line up with their groups. Some of the gyms were huge, while others only had one or two participants. All were equally excited to be in attendance–and very nervous. After they marched in, they were sent off to various parts of the gym to warm up for their first events. Isaiah’s group headed for the pommel horse and mushroom. Sadly, they were directly behind the uneven bars, which were also in use, so I wasn’t able to get any photos. However, I could see them. Isaiah gave one of his best performances ever and knew he’d done well.
Next up was the rings. This is one of my favorite events, but also one that has been difficult for Isaiah. It requires incredible strength and control, as well as enough courage to turn upside down, while several feet above the ground (the rings hang above the coaches’ heads). Isaiah was so excited when he arrived today because he’d spent time practicing on a set of rings at the local playground and had finally figured out how to pull himself up into position without assistance. He showed off his new skill beautifully for his coach and the judges.
After that was the floor routine, with more new skills to show off. After years of trying, Isaiah is finally able to properly do a cartwheel, which means he can actually complete the routine. He was so excited to finally do the routine correctly and we were all so proud.
Parallel bars has always been one of Isaiah’s strengths. He loves them and has done well with them from the start, probably from all the practice he’d had before with swinging from literally any surface he could, ever since he figured out it was possible. He typically scores well on them, but has continued to improve with every practice and every meet.
Then Isaiah did his high bar routine. This is another that he struggled with, thanks to the need to turn upside down. He spent a long time too afraid to flip around the bar, worrying he’d fall on his head (I can’t say I blame him!). Now that he’s willing to do it, he’s learning and improving rapidly.
The final event was the vault. Isaiah is still at the lowest competitive level, so his group doesn’t use the actual vault. They’re still learning to use the springboard to jump into the air and how to land on their hands and flip. His routine consisted of jumping off the springboard and sticking a landing on the mats, then going back to the board, going into a handstand and allowing himself to fall onto his back (can’t complete a full flip without getting into the air, so they’re supposed to land on their backs).
When all was said and done, Isaiah had done his absolute best in every event. Did he win? No. But it’s his very first year competing, so no one really expected him to win right now. For the time being, it’s all about learning and having fun with his friends. As long as he continues to love it, he’ll continue to compete, whether he comes in first or last place. The most important thing for him to know about this year, though, is how proud his family and coaches are of his achievements. When he started gymnastics, he was shy and lacked any kind of confidence in his own abilities. I had to beg him to stay for class, then stick around myself and watch. Now, he dashes out the front door and takes off to class without me (we live close to his gym). He was afraid to use any of the equipment and didn’t have a clue how to do anything that was being asked of him, in those early days. Now, each of his coaches has stopped me at various times to say it’s amazing how much he’s learning and that he has a new skill to show them every week! Gymnastics has been absolutely amazing for Isaiah in so many ways. He’s stronger, more confident, and so much more willing to take risks and try new things. He’s learned that he can be independent and do things himself, instead of clinging to an adult and hoping they’ll fix it. I look forward to many more years of gymnastics and watching my sweet little boy grow into a confident young man.