An Open Letter to Little Gymnasts

Dear little gymnast with big dreams,

You just slipped on your hot pink leo, slid on a purple headband, and put your hair back in pigtails. You’re ready to go to the gym—your favorite place in the entire world.

It’s where you get to jump and run and leap and twirl with nobody to tell you not to break the furniture or be careful of the lamps. It's where you get to see your best friends and your coach, who can teach you every cool trick you’ve dreamed of learning. It’s the place you daydream about when you’re not there.

It's the beginning of a truly amazing journey.

Every skill you learn, every time you fall, every medal you earn, every friend you make—this sport is about to shape your life for years to come.

Here are a couple things to remember as you go...

Have fun

The first intention you ever had for doing the sport is the one that should always carry you through. In the beginning, your primary motivation probably wasn't earning a college scholarship, getting a double back off bars, or standing on the top of the podium. You became a gymnast because you wanted to run around and have the time of your life with your friends. Of course, having goals is great (and necessary for success!), but make sure you’re having a blast while doing it.


null


Remember why you started

In a few years, you might find yourself afraid to try new skills, sick of all the conditioning, and tired of rips on your hands. You might even feel like quitting. The long hours in the gym will start to take a toll on you both mentally and physically, and you’ll wonder if it's all worth it. You’ll be making a lot of sacrifices and might feel like you “have no life” outside of the gym. These are the times that you must remember why you started the sport in the first place. It was because you love it. You love the challenge, and your success means so much more when you fight hard to achieve it.


null


Know that your identity is not in your scores

This will be one of your biggest battles. Gymnastics is a sport of chasing perfection. You’re hard on yourself because you want to be successful and reach your goals. But if you start to search for your self-worth in your success, you’ll find yourself in a very sad place when adversity or injury comes your way. You are more than the trophies on your nightstand. You are loved beyond measure by God, your family, your coaches, and your friends, regardless of any score next to your name.


null


Believe that falling is not failing

Falling is something you simply can’t avoid in this sport. You’ll fall hundreds…thousands…of times (but don’t worry, you’ll learn to fall safely and relatively painlessly). Don’t pout when you fall, especially at a meet. It’s an opportunity to learn. It’s an opportunity to get better. You haven’t failed unless you believe you’re a failure. So get up, wipe the chalk off your face, and try again. You’ll get that skill one day, and when you do, you’ll celebrate like it’s your birthday.


null


Be a true teammate

After you’re done with gymnastics for a couple years, you’ll reflect on the wonder of that incredible experience. I guarantee some of the most memorable moments will involve the people who flipped alongside you and loved you through the entire process. Learn to support your teammates in every moment, even when you’re competing with them for first place or for a spot in the lineup. At the end of the day, the relationships you create mean so much more than a piece of stainless steel on a string. Your teammates become your friends for life.


null


Say 'thank you'

Remember to appreciate all the people who support you endlessly. And I mean truly appreciate them. Your parents will spend hours in the car driving you to and from practice. Your siblings will sit through four-hour-long gymnastics meets and post proud Instagram photos with you afterwards. Your coaches will work tirelessly to make you a better gymnast and person. Your teachers will adjust your assignments and work around you missing class for competitions. Think about everyone who becomes part of your journey, and let them know that you couldn’t do it without them.

You don’t understand quite yet, but gymnastics will become something so special to you that it will impact the rest of your life.

It may even become your first true love.

Cherish every moment, because it flies by faster than you could ever imagine. I was lucky enough to get to pursue my passion for 19 years and come out on the other side with friends and memories I wouldn’t trade for the world. My dream for you is that through it all, you'll always remember who you are, why you started, and where you are going.

Much love,

Rebecca


All photos courtesy of Antje Rester via Emma Rester's Instagram


Related:
12 Things I'll Never Forget From My Young Gymnastics Days

Jaymes Marshall: Little Gymnast, Big Amanar

U.S. Wins Team Golds At 2018 Pan American Gymnastics Championships

The U.S. men and U.S. women both won team gold medals at the 2018 Pan American Championships in Lima, Peru.

McCallum, Thomas Go One-Two AA At 2018 Pan Am Championships

Press release via USA Gymnastics.

After Placing 6th In US Champs All-Around, Jade Carey Vies For Worlds Spot

Jade Carey - Floor, USA - Official Podium Training - 2017 World Championships

Between the return of Simone Biles — the greatest gymnast of all time — and the tumult within USA Gymnastics, the last nine months have been an absolute roller coaster. But that's not going to keep us from constantly recognizing the hard work and brilliant gymnastics of these athletes.

2018 U.S. Championships Lovely Leo Winners

NCAA Gymnastics 2019 Season Hype: Trinity Thomas Is Coming To Gainesville

We’re continuing our series on the new additions to NCAA gymnastics team rosters, highlighting the Florida Gators today. The Gators had a couple of important contributors graduate last year, including Kennedy Baker, Alex McMurtry, and Rachel Slocum. How they replace these losses will determine how far they can go this year in NCAA competition.

Elevate The Stage: JO To NCAA Gymnasts

Elevate the Stage is a podium-style gymnastics competition for NCAA and J.O. teams, and FloGymnastics is excited to again bring you live coverage of the meets in the 2019 season.

Lovely Leos: 2018 U.S. Gymnastics Championships Day 2

We've got a winner from day 1, and now it's time to vote for Day 2's loveliest leo from the 2018 U.S. Championships!

University Of Illinois At Chicago To Cut NCAA Gymnastics Teams

The University of Illinois at Chicago men's and women's gymnastics teams were informed on August 31 that the 2018-2019 competition season would be the final year for both teams. 

NCAA Gymnastics 2019 Season Hype: Olivia Trautman Leads The New Sooners

School is back in session, which means that your favorite NCAA gymnastics teams are also back in action with team retreats, strategy sessions, and hardcore conditioning. Though not every 2018-19 roster has been released yet, several are up online, allowing fans to have a look at the newcomers and how they might fit into the team. 

Letter To Membership From USA Gymnastics Board Chair Karen Golz

Below is a letter from USA Gymnastics board chair Karen Golz about Kerry Perry resigning as CEO and president of USA Gymnastics, via USAGym.

Dear USA Gymnastics Community:I am writing to tell you that USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry informed our Board of Directors last night that she will resign effective immediately. On behalf of the board, I want to thank Kerry for her leadership under very difficult circumstances. As you know, USA Gymnastics has been in the midst of a difficult and painful transition to ensure that the safety and interests of our athletes remain at the heart of our mission. While much as been accomplished over the past several months to stabilize the organization, we still face tremendous challenges as we all work to achieve fundamental changes to move our sport forward. We look forward to bringing in new leadership to build on the progress to date, and the board will immediately begin the search for an interim CEO. In the meantime, it has established a management committee to provide organizational oversight to maintain continuity in the day-to-day operations until an interim CEO is named. Additionally, the board is in the process of forming a search committee made up of board members, as well as athletes and others from the gymnastics and NGB community, to find our next permanent leader. Board member and Olympian Brent Lang, president and CEO of Vocera, will chair the committee. We will keep you informed as we work through our urgent leadership issues. I want to assure you that this board is determined to take the necessary steps to support a safe and competitive environment where every athlete can grow, learn life lessons, have fun and succeed. We know the last few years have been very difficult for everyone involved with USA Gymnastics, and we thank you for your patience and support through these challenging days. The athletes, parents, coaches, judges, volunteers, gym owners and USA Gymnastics staff are the heart and soul of USA Gymnastics, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that our athletes and everyone involved with our great sport and movement achieve their fullest potential. Sincerely,Karen GolzChair, Board of DirectorsUSA Gymnastics