It has been a great journey
My daughters, Samantha and Jessica, started gymnastics when they were 2 years old and fell in love with the sport. They couldn’t get enough of the gym — sound familiar? I know this is a common story among gymnastics families.
My girls thought of the gym as their playground and continued to grow, learn and enjoy the sport more and more each day. It was fun to watch and cheer for them along the way.
They started competing at Level 4 when they were 6 years old and started climbing the gymnastics ladder. Of course, it wasn’t an easy climb, there were lots of ups and downs.
The struggles along the way
We did our best as parents but, I’m sure, we didn’t always do the right thing. We were pretty competitive and wanted our daughters to succeed but we also wanted them to enjoy the experience.
We learned a lot along our journey and I wish I had known then, what I know now! That’s why I wanted to start this website to share some of my experiences in hopes that it will enhance your gymnastics journey.
Although Sam and Jessie took slightly different paths throughout their gymnastics careers, they both achieved their goals. Sam wanted to pursue elite gymnastics, be an Olympian and eventually compete in college. Jessie wanted to enjoy the JO Program, reach the top, then move on to collegiate gymnastics. They worked super hard at both school and gymnastics and accomplished their goals. Sam made the 2007 World Championships Team and won the team gold medal, and then made the 2008 Olympic team and won the team silver medal. She then moved on to collegiate gymnastics where she earned a scholarship at UCLA and won three NCAA Titles.
Jessie climbed the JO levels and made it to the top — Level 10! She qualified to 4 JO Nationals and earned a scholarship to Western Michigan University where she competed as a Bronco and won the MAC Senior Gymnast of the Year her last year.
They did it! They achieved their goals — through a lot of hard work, dedication and sacrifice. Your daughters can reach their dreams, too!
From JO & TOPs to Elite
Samantha began climbing the levels as both a JO and TOP’s athlete. She made the TOPs National Team at age 10. This is where we realized that she was very talented and had the potential to excel. Sam moved up pretty quickly through Levels 6-10 and was a Level 10 at age 11. She had a disappointment at the 2011 Regionals when she overrotated her double back dismount off beam and became the alternate to JO Nationals. She didn’t enjoy going to the competition and “watching” so this was a great learning experience for her — she never wanted to “watch” again. The following year, at age 12, she made JO Nationals and finished second all-around. She also tested for elite and qualified! A few weeks later she competed in the U.S. Classic as an elite and made it as a junior international to the USA Gymnastics Championships. It was an exciting, stressful, wonderful experience! And then her elite career began …
Sam loved to perform in outdoor exhibitions!
Sam at the 2008 Olympic Games
From JO & TOPs to College
Jessie also competed in the JO program and TOPs. She climbed Levels 6-9 pretty quickly. She had a set back at Level 9 when she didn’t make Level 9 Easterns — that was tough for her to go through but she was still very young and it gave her encouragement to reach Level 10 and make JO Nationals. She did reach level 10 as a freshman in high school. Jessie was known for her flexibility in her legs, shoulders and back. She had to work hard on strength and speed but was very flexible. Her first year Level 10 she made JO Nationals – NIT. Her next three years she made it to JO Nationals. Her top placements at JO Nationals were 3rd on bars and 4th on beam. Jessie earned a full ride gymnastics scholarship to Western Michigan University and moved on to collegiate gymnastics. She competed in every meet all four years of her gymnastics career with one exception. That is hard to do and a tribute to her tenacity!
Jessie loved playing in the gym!
Jessie’s excitement after nailing a bar routine for WMU