By: Yelena Hopper
Balance, strength, flexibility, agility, coordination, and endurance. When you think of these traits, where does your imagination lead you to? Does it take your mind to a gym, filled with lines of beamers and colorful mats all around, with a talented gymnast, swiftly using their body to perform unique movements? These are the characteristics of performing systematic exercises, otherwise known as gymnastics.
Gavin Hapney, a first-year student at MMACHS, is a gymnast for Danick Gymnastics. He started gymnastics in 2018 at the early age of 8 years old, just as he had gotten off a swim team, hoping that he would find a new skill to learn.
“I just came off a swim team and I wanted to do another sport then my mom recommended gymnastics or tumbling,” he explained.
Gavin was the first in his family to start gymnastics. With practice, Gavin practices three-and-a-half hours a day, five days a week. He has competed in local gymnastics competitions every year and tried to do all the meets he could. Competitions can be challenging in gymnastics, as it takes performing precise and difficult skills.
“At my last competition at regionals, I did a really bad meet. My routine on parallel bars, I did this handstand and I turned, and then I fell through the bars!” Gavin exclaimed.
Entering competition season can also be difficult for him and his teammates because additional stress is applied.
“I got to say my hardest moment is getting into competition season. The coaches are stressed, that is when they are the grumpiest and they get on you more,” he disclosed.
His favorite skill in gymnastics is called “The Bhavsar.” It was named after the American artistic gymnast, Stephen Raj Bhavsar. The skill consists of unique movements on parallel bars.
Gymnastics has done a lot for Gavin’s benefiting aspects of his life. He made his closest friends there, who also became his biggest inspiration. It has also done a lot for his health and wellness. This includes his physical and mental health. Overall, it has made him into a healthy person.
“It does a lot for your physical. Lots of cardio, you have to do a lot of bodyweight exercises, lots of balance, strength. For mentally, it just prepares you to get over scary things. It made me into a pretty healthy person, made me more mentally stable.”
Gymnastics has a great mentality challenge. It consists of constantly trying new skills, and these are skills that endure high risk. Gavin stated that the most challenging thing about gymnastics in general is the mental aspect of it.
“It’s scary to do skills for the first time and trying new things,” he explained. “Skills are scary to do but you got to trust the coach. They know how to save you if you get injured and they know what to do, but you most likely won’t get injured.”
Mr. Marion, Gavin’s health and wellness teacher at MMACHS, described how Gavin uses his athletic abilities in class: “I’ve seen him do incredible things in class, not necessarily gymnastics wise but you can tell he is a very good athlete by the way he does freaky-cool tricks such as backflips, handstands, pull-ups.”
Gavin is not currently doing gymnastics, but he plans to come back to it. He sees himself doing this in the future.
A piece of advice Gavin has for his peers: “When times are hard, try to get through them. People are here for you, and they will support you. Do not let the bad things pull you down.”