“Hellooooo” gymnastics parents, it’s been a long time since I have blogged, but I have gotten busy with life, and there has been a lot of changes that have happened since I last blogged most of which none of you will care about. The one change you may be interested in is how my family and I handled the closing of our old gym and the transition to our new gym. I titled this blog The Transition because in October we found out that the gym my daughter has been at for the last 7.5 years was closing its doors. It was pretty shady how the owner decided to do it but not to relive the experience let’s just say “it sucked” and keep it moving. In this first of a series of blogs chronicling my daughter’s current season, I am going to talk about the emotions that go into a gym closing, researching gyms and finding a new gym and what the first day was like.
My daughter is named Triniti, and she is 9 years old and a Level 7 gymnasts. Triniti started gymnastics at 18 months with the Parents and Tots class. We initially started her in gymnastics because we were trying to find a way to tire her little butt out, but after some time we realized she had some ability. Eventually, she was selected for pre-team, and the rest is pretty much history. I know you were probably expecting a fantastic story about how she was doing back handsprings at two years old and all that, but nope we were just trying to tire her little tail out! She was blessed with some ability, and her hard-work coupled with great coaches has allowed her to be successful thus far.
After finding out our gym was closing the scramble was on to find a new gym. In our area, we have three other gyms, and based on reputation alone only one of them was even close to a viable option. I reached out to coaches who were friends of mine to get their opinion on our next move, and the majority recommended I take Triniti to a gym up north. Understand, we live in a Georgia suburb that is south of Atlanta, and there seems to be a prevailing thought that all the good programs (regardless of the sport) exist up North. Fortunately, my little coaching radar was able to sniff out BS. I told my friends that I wasn’t sold that geographic location is a creditable deciding factor on whether a gym was good or not. After talking with the coaches at Stick It and looking at their facility my wife and I was convinced that Stick It was the best move at least in the immediate future. I knew it was going to be difficult to make an informed and unbiased decision on any gym because our feelings were still raw from what we had just gone through, so the logic was “when all else fails, go with what ya know.”
Stick It is around the corner from our old gym which is pretty convenient location wise. The coaches came from the same school of gymnastics as our old coaches which is a huge plus. Heck, they even have similar names! Our former coaches were named Coach Irinia, and Coach Sergey and our new coaches are Coach Marina and Coach Sergey. What is crazy is that both Coach Sergeys were college roommates in Russia. The quality of the facility is impeccable, and my wife made an excellent analysis. She said that a person would only build this level quality of gym if their goal were to have a top tier program. Anyway, we seemed to have landed on a solid foundation from a coaching standpoint, but a quality program is defined by scores, so we have to wait for the season to play out.
The First Day
Heading to the new gym on our first day was pretty intense emotions wise. It was a Monday, and we had walked out the doors of our old gym for the last time on Friday, so the feelings were still pretty raw. The dad part of me felt pain for my daughter and anger at the old owner because the emotional hurt my daughter was experiencing, but the coach in me understood that many times change can be good and should be embraced not feared. I told my daughter repeatedly that she can’t be paralyzed by the fear of change. In all honesty, there was also an unspoken giant elephant in the room that many other parents didn’t have to factor in. Would my daughter experience the same success she was having with her old coaches? The truth of the matter is that success is critical to keep any athlete interested in a sport. Now, keep in mind success doesn’t necessarily mean beating your competition, it also means achieving and maintaining a certain level of quality. Now, the coach in me also knows there is typically some drop off in performance when changing programs due to the fact that the athlete has to get comfortable with the new coaches, and that is why it was critically important that our new coaches had similar coaching styles and a training methodology to our old coaches.
The walk through the door of the new gym wasn’t as difficult as I expected. Don’t get me wrong there was a part of me that was sickened by the walk in because the moment I walked through the door, I fully understood the gravity of the situation. It was over, the fantasy of Triniti starting and ending her pre-collegiate career with the same coaches was finito, finish, kaput. Again, you lick your wounds and keep it moving. Triniti didn’t seem impacted much, honestly because since our entire optional team moved to the same gym, it made the transition much more comfortable. Basically, we had the same squad just with a better gym and new coaches. As long as
she was happy, then I was okay.
The First Day
Overall the first day was interesting. The first couple practices as expected was chaotic. Not to show my age but if you grew up watching Romper Room then imagine that. Literally, kids were flipping off the walls, floors, beams, and bars. At one point I thought a voice was going to come out of nowhere and say “I see Mikey and Johnny and Triniti.” Some parents had concerns about the size of the group which was fair, but I told them that the new gym had just acquired approximately 40 new gymnasts and they would need some time to adjust. As a coach, I can’t imagine how I would handle a sudden influx of roughly 40 new athletes. Overall the first couple days although chaotic were pretty solid, you could tell it was a “feeling out” and evaluation period. The athletes, parents, and coaches heads were spinning but after a few days order was restored.
The parents who had been there before us was kinda standoffish which was to be expected. After all, many of them viewed us as intruders. I think the global concern for everyone was how was this going to work with so many girls. The funny thing is that although the parents seemed to have a certain level of anxiety over the change the athletes adjusted quickly. Athletes just want friends, teams, banners, and medals. I think parents in this situation get into the weeds wondering how was this going to affect their individual child. Would their child still be viewed in the same light, and given the same opportunities that was in place before the additional athletes ,and those feelings caused parents to go into their own corners.
Overall, the move to the new gym appears to be working. I think everyone at the moment is in a holding pattern waiting for the season to play out. There will obviously be differences between organizations, but I think overall there were enough similarities for the girls to have adapted pretty quickly. Parents are parents, some will hate us for intruding on their space, and some will embrace the change. Either way, if my baby is happy and the growth continues then, this might turn out to be a good move.
Stay Tuned next week as a new blog will chronicle Triniti’s first meet.
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