Wednesday, April 21, 2010

N is for Never Give Up!

I expect all my intermediates to have a back hip circle and a back-bend kick-over.” Boy, I was in trouble. I'd been taking gymnastics lessons with the Montgomery County Department of Recreation for two session as a beginner, and I felt that I was ready to move on to the intermediates. Kelly, apparently, did not. I just didn't think I, as an eleven year old, fit in with the six and seven year olds, though were I to be brutally honest, my skill level probably did. But I wasn't ready to give up.

The gymnastics bug first bit me on the playground of East Silver Spring Elementary School. Nancy was the ring leader. She could do perfect cartwheels, round-offs, and of course, the trick we all aspired to: hang on the bar by your hands, swing your leg up over the bar (between your hands) and pull yourself to a sitting position so that you could then do windmills. Takes tremendous stomach muscles, as well as flexibility. The rest of us losers had to help each other up, literally giving a leg up. THEN we could do the windmills. Of course not as perfectly as Nancy. Which of course she pointed out.

When I hit middle school, which in this school system was fourth, fifth and sixth grade, I joined the gymnastics team. This was of course faux gymnastics, more jump off the springboard, wave to the parents type stuff. But it was fun and I got to say to everyone, “I'm on a gymnastics team now.” Satisfying. Especially when talking to Nancy, who went to a different school.

But what I truly wanted was REAL gymnastics. If you've caught on to how old I am, this was during the Nadia Comaneci years, the Olympics where she scored the first perfect 10. So off to the rec department I went. What's a girl to do when she's got no talent, AT ALL, for gymnastics? Well, if you're as stubborn as I am, you don't give up. If Kelly says back hip circle, well I'd better learn one before the next practice. Off to the playground. Made myself dizzy and nauseous but I actually learned it. Wow. I amazed even myself.

The back-bend kick-over was a different. I could do the back-bend, no problem. It was the kicking over that my stomach muscles weren't strong enough for yet. But it was Friday, so I had until Monday. I remember this so clearly, because we were going to the Briarpatch for the weekend. And the house sits on a hill. And hills are slanted. And if you do a back-bend with you feet uphill, it's easier to kick-over. When we weren't sailing, I was on that hill. Practicing over and over again. Until finally, surprisingly, I could do it not on the hill. Wow. I'm now so stinking excited I can't wait to get to gymnastics. I'm so sure Kelly is going to test us and I'm going to pass!

She doesn't test us. I even ask her. “Aren't we having the test to see if we can stay in intermediates?” “No. I just say that to scare away the kids who aren't motivated.” Seriously? I've worried and made myself dizzy and probably strained my back for nothing? I'm mad. But I do eventually calm down when I realize that I learned two really hard (for me) gymnastics tricks in less than one week. With no coach. I wonder what I could do if I keep taking lessons?

Retire as the sixth in the state at the age of 16 is what I did. And that was the gymnastics season I broke my ankle in April, my collarbone in September and my wrist in December. (I'm not exaggerating for dramatic effect. I really AM that orthopedically lucky. And besides, one of them was horseback riding and you can thank my Aunt Risky for that one.) So never underestimate what you can do with a whole lot of hard work. And a whole lot of stubbornness. And a whole lot of prayer.

This post is linked to the fab Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday class. Click on over and check out the other great N posts!

25 comments:

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

That was very good. I enjoyed it.

Linda said...

Wonderful post! My daughter was a gymnast and it is so hard! She did it for several years and when she was 13 decided to stop. She learned so much and Never Give Up was one of those lessons.

Viki said...

Wow, good for you that you figured out how to do those all on your own. Sixth in the state that's pretty amazing.

Christy said...

Sixth in state! You go girl! Wasn't Nadia amazing?!!

critical crass said...

i'm impressed you taught yourself that. and sixth in state is pretty amazing, too. thanks for sharing. :]

Pondside said...

Wow!
My whole body was in danger of spraining, just thinking about those gymnastics moves. Good for you, for not giving up!

Jo said...

You are one determined person! Congrats on have the personal strength to go after what you wanted.

Tracy said...

I was the same with Basketball way back in 79 and then it was not many girls played it here in the UK

My name is PJ. said...

Very cool, except for the breaking bones part!!

JDaniel4's Mom said...

What an inspiration! You learned the tricks so quickly.

Aging Mommy said...

Great post - you are so right, natural talent definitely gives someone a great advantage at anything but you also have to have great determination, passion and dedication to truly be great and those factors if you have them in abundance can and will take you far. Gymnastics requires all those in bucket loads - and I speak as a woman who never even managed to master a forward roll :-)

laterg8r said...

love your determination :D

Jenny said...

What a great post...although I think I need to take some aspirin from just reading it.

I'm curious whether nanocephalous people are better or worse at gymnastics.

Sorry for torturing you here.

I'm just trying to use one word from my obscure dictionary in every link today.

Because that's what teachers do.

I think.

Thanks for an athletic stop on my little journey through Alphabe-Thursday's letter "N"!

A+

Red Couch Recipes said...

That is a wonderful post about determination! I need some of it in so many ways in my life! Please tell your mom to stop washing "your" china in the dishwasher! Joni

jeff campbell said...

What a wonderful and engaging story...I will have to settle for some mental gymnastics :-) Peace

Brenda said...

I am glad you stuck with it as long as possible. My two grand daughters 3 and 5 are in a gymnastics class right now and I think my daughter is going to try and find another one because they are having a lot of fun.

VKT said...

I took gymnastics too. Loveddddddd it. I never broke my collarbone though. Very impressive that you got to 6th in the state. Great N post...Stop by to read mine if you get a chance.

Julie Schuler said...

ouch. That made me feel all sore and achy just reading about it.

lissa said...

good for you for not choosing the easy way out

thanks for your visit

mrs. c said...

What a great story of "not giving up"! In my classroom I tell my kids," we don't say can't we say I WILL TRY" and that is just what you did. I am sure that you have been successful in life because of your "not give up" attitude! Thank you for sharing!

criticalcrass said...

hi! thanks for reading picky, commenting, the compliments, and for following! of course we can be friends. i can always use one more of those.

sorry to hear that you can't have blue bell though. that's a tragedy. :]

Short and Sweet said...

What a wonderful and inspiring post! You really set a goal for yourself and you met it...sore muscles and all. Good job.

easternsparkle said...

Ouch - my body aches just reading this!

Melinda Cornish said...

what a great story....I am glad you hung with it!

mbkatc230 said...

Great story! I bet you were mad enough to spit when you realized you weren't going to get to show off your newly learned skills, but talk about motivation. Thanks for stopping by, I'm impressed that you still have those notes from 8th grade! Kathy