I have watched Izzie doing gymnastics since she was 3. This year, she made the leap to the Level 3 Team and began competing. Of course, competing in the midst of a pandemic made this season anything but normal.
Practices began later in the season than normal. But Izzie worked hard to learn and master the skills she needed for each her routines. Sure, there were struggles, but with the help of her coaches and teammates, she continued to improve.
Before we knew it, it was November and our first meet was just around the corner. But wait, a teammate tested positive for Covid. The entire Level 3 team was under quarantine. And that first meet, well we did Izzie did not compete. None of the team did.
Once the team made it back to the gym, they kept working hard. And then, another chance to compete came around. In December, Izzie was to compete in her first in-person competition. But, with all of the Covid rules, the competition became virtual. I dropped her off at her gym and rushed home to watch her compete via Zoom. Not quite what we expected, but at least she was competing.
January rolled around and another meet…virtual. Routines were recorded during practice and once again, I watch via Zoom. But again, Izzie was able to compete.
Enter February, Izzie competed in her first in-person meet. Sure it was just our gym and one more gym, but it was a competition. And, Izzie had her best meet ever, taking 3rd in the all around. As February continued, the girls endured another gym closure due to Covid. And then the final regular season competition was upcoming. Scheduled to be in-person, the meet suddenly turned virtual. But, this time when I dropped Izzie off at the gym, I was able to stay and watch.
But today, today was the final meet of the season, the Level 3 State Meet. This was the first almost normal meet of the season. Izzie was competed with one other girl from her gym and so many girls from other gyms. It was so different from anything Izzie had ever experienced. As we drove to the meet, Izzie wrote to me in our journal and I wrote back to her, reminding her to do her best and have fun. We talked about the most important thing about today was to have fun.
We walked into a large gym and she was so nervous about everything. We found her coach and then headed upstairs to watch. It was so apparent that Izzie had never experienced anything like this before as warm ups began. Unsure of what to do, her coach pushed her forward and she got to work. And then it began.
I never realized how nervous I was about Izzie and gymnastics until she began competing, and today was no exception. Of course, she was the first to go on the floor. I loved watching her musicality with her movements and the power in her roundoff backspring. As quick as it began, floor was complete, 9.1, her highest score yet!
Izzie moved to vault, one of her favorite events because she runs fast. Warmups began and she had a mix of okay vaults and not so okay vaults. When it was her turn, she saluted to the judges and then she was off. Two quick vaults later, 9.1!
The third event was bars. She has a love hate relationship with bars. There are some difficult moves. She looked great in warmups. Soon, it was her turn. As I was taking the video, I was watching and then all of a sudden, she missed her chute through. Tears sprung to my eyes. She had never missed a big move in competition and here she was in her biggest meet and a skill was missed. My heart broke for her as an 8.550 appeared on the screen. Definitely not her best.
We finally made it to the last event, beam. She had improved so much on the beam this season. I watched her as she nailed her handstand. Izzie had a few wobbles, but she did hit her dismount which gave her so much trouble at the beginning of the season. But, as with bars, not her best with a 8.775.
And just like that, Izzie’s first competitive season was over. She achieved her best all around score with a 35.525, but it just wasn’t enough to place today. As I watched the floor being set up for awards, my heart was breaking again. They had socially distanced podiums. Izzie had once told me that her happy place would be standing on the first place podium. I could only imagine that she was sitting there looking at the podiums, feeling sad and disappointed. And if she wasn’t feeling that, I know I certainly was feeling the disappointment.
But no matter what, I am so proud of Izzie! She worked so hard this season and grew as a gymnast each and every time she stepped onto the gym floor. At the end of the meet, she felt she did well and she had fun. I consider that a win in my book!