Years Ago As A Competitive Gymnastics Coach…
I remember how I first became enthralled with movement. I was in elementary school, 9 years old, and there was a girl doing gymnastics at our Talent Show. She wore a long sleeved, rainbow leotard, and she blew my mind as she cartwheeled and flipped across the stage. I knew right then and there, in my every cell, that THIS was something I had to learn about, I had to experience for myself.
On the way home we saw the girl walking home and I had my mom stop and ask her where she did gymnastics. The next thing I remember is stepping foot into a club that would place me onto a path that has helped design my entire life and my love for it.
I recall seeing the girls tumble across the floor, I remember seeing a girl on the P-bar crying as she did dips, and I remember another girl doing handstand push-ups on a wall. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I wanted to be here. I wanted to know all about this practice.
And, so I did. I began as a recreational gymnast, and about a year later I was in the gym 3 times a day training as a competitive team member. That eventually turned into 5 days a week and I eventually went on to receive a college scholarship as a competitive gymnast for San Jose State. I did that for one year.
I coached gymnastics since I was in high school, working then with recreational children. After my first year of college I began teaching competitive team girls as my full time job and did that for 7 years (then began teaching yoga). I had the privilege of working with the same group of girls for 2.5 years at one point, and my time with these kids (5-10 years old at the time we began) is forever imprinted in my heart and I am still in contact with almost each of them and their parents still to this day. Today I share with you all a recent message from one of those little angels in my life:
“Sam, to say that you had an impact on my life would be the most severe understatement I’ve ever written. You were much more than that. You have inspired me every day of my life since I met you.
Even though you haven’t coached me in 10 years, (can you believe it’s been that long!?! wow) you are still to this day the person I refer to if I am ever asked “Who was an inspiring leader to you growing up?” or “Who is your hero?” Even in job interviews! And explaining why could take an entire novel, but as an attempt to keep it a bit shorter I will quote something I wrote to you when I was just 10 years old. Maybe some of it sounds silly, but every word is still true to this day:
“Being a part of her team made me the happiest girl alive. I remember how good she wanted us to be so she always made the conditioning harder than ever. I can’t thank her enough for that. She always made me feel like a part of something, something that was only in dreams. She also made me feel just as good as any Olympic gymnast and believed that I could do anything I wanted. Sam taught me how to be anybody I want to be and the things she taught me make me feel like I’m flying. She always had a joy and strength inside her that made you just want to hang around her forever. She loves living and shows it.”
I’m confident in saying that every bit of my optimism in life stemmed from being a gymnast of yours. I can also say that in a sport that constantly reminds you that you are not good enough, not special enough, not perfect enough, you made me feel the opposite. You made me love hard work, and to this day I carry that love with me.
You care about your students, and in more ways than just the gym. You are the most genuine and inspiring coach I have ever had the pleasure in knowing.” -Meghan Rynee
When you look back at your life and reflect on the moments that have made you life become who you are today, I pray that your treasure box of memories are full of heart-felt goodness that bring you pure joy.