Gymnastics is different from other sports. Competitions are few and often far away, gymnasts often compete as individuals instead of a team, and there is no off season.
Charlotte Bumgarner, 8, of Cashiers; and Eliza Tate, 15, of Highlands travel to Franklin several times a week to train at New Vision Training Center, each practice session lasts 4 hours. Both gymnasts began when they were 1.5 years old. Tate said the sacrifice is worth it to do something you love.
“Gymnastics is a big commitment, but it’s worth it because it teaches me so much more than anything else,” said Tate. “It’s also really unique because some of the girls and boys I practice with at the moment range from 2nd to 12th grade.”
Bumgarner said there’s a draw to gymnastics that keeps her coming back to the gym to train.
“I like gymnastics because I like to do crazy things, and I want to show people that girls can do anything boys can do,” said Bumgarner. “Gymnastics encourages girls to do that.”
During competitions, gymnasts perform on the vault, beam, floor routine, and bars; Bumgarner and Tate strive for improvement at each station. Competitors are scored based on leg, feet, arms, hands, head, creativity, presentation, amplitude, and skill level (how difficult is the routine).
Tate recently took first place in vault at The Charleston Cup in South Carolina on Feb. 29. New Vision Coach April Ostojic said Tate wasn’t happy with her performance, but ended up taking first.
“Eliza is very dedicated, 4-5 times a week all year round, she has strong goals and a great work ethic,” said Ostajic. “She is a leader on our team and pulls us all together, and she’s confident in that role.”
Bumgarner said she gets excited before competitions, but calms down once she begins her routine.
“Sometimes competitions are really intense,” said Bumgarner. “And sometimes the judges can be really hard, but I don’t blame them, they’re just doing their job.”
New Vision Coach Alanna Peavy said Bumgarner’s dedication for someone her age is impressive.
“She works very hard and puts in a lot of effort in the gym every time she’s here,” said Peavey. “She always has a positive attitude and she shows improvement with each meet she competes in.”
Sometimes you have to visualize it before executing the stunt
Bumgarner remembers when she was competing one time and due to a schedule mishap, had to perform on the floor with very no notice.
“It was my third competition and I was backstage and suddenly I had to go on with no preparation,” she said. “Then they said I won first place and I thought, oh my gosh this is amazing!”
Tate said the dedication required for gymnastics has an effect on her social life.
“I get a social life at the gym,” said Tate. “Going to a public school rather than being home schooled gives me friends there too. It just effects my inability to hangout with them a lot. I’m also at the gym all summer, so hanging out then really isn’t an option either.”
Eliza Tate performing a backflip on a beam
Tate’s mother, Allison, said Eliza’s participation in gymnastics has been a family commitment since they began a Mommy and Me class when Eliza was a baby. She said the number one reason it’s worth it is because gymnastics is Eliza’s passion, and watching your child do something that she loves is enough.
“Eliza is learning about failures and successes,” said Allison. “She is learning about setting goals and how to work for them. Imagine setting a goal and literally failing time and time again, like days upon days, before you nail that tumbling pass or dismount. Also, when she is competing one small bobble can cause a fall on an event and she has to make quick decisions how she can make up for a mistake. There is so much pressure in the spotlight of gymnastics and she is learning huge life lessons about how to handle pressure, stress, nerves, etc.”
Bumgarner’s mother, Katie, said she first enrolled her daughter into gymnastics as a fun activity and a chance to socialize. After Charlotte chalked up her hands once, she was hooked.
“At the time, there was a shortage of Cashiers-local activities for very young kids, so driving to Franklin was one of the only options,” said Katie. “Charlotte took to gymnastics immediately and has loved it ever since. The amount of practices within the week have increased with her joining the competition team and also increasing in level, and definitely can be inconvenient and overwhelming at times, seeing her smile out on the gym floor while she’s giving it all she’s got makes every mile worth it.”
Learn more about New Vision Training Center HERE.