“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!