Beyond Just Flips

Lily Ramsdell, Journalist

What is the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of the word gymnastics? Probably most of you consider it flip and tricks, but the first thing I think of is determination. For some, gymnastics is not even accounted as a sport but a hobby. I do not deem something that requires 10+ years of commitment, tears from fear and exhaustion, blood from rips, braces from injuries, and more than 20 hours a week of practice, a hobby. Even at lower levels of gymnastics, all these things are required to do the sport. 

Gymnastics is not an easy sport, but it is worth all the hard work. This year some teams are competing for two gymnastics programs. One is called USAG, and it is the ones that you mostly know. “USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for the sport in the United States. It gets this designation from the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Gymnastics Federation (” A new program called NGA sprouted after the whole Larry Nassar situation started. Their purpose is “to provide a fun and affordable competitive gymnastics program that allows children of all ages and levels to achieve their own personal goals (” Both programs are similar but run by different people. Many of the gyms this year including Ace Gymnastics Inc in Ipswich, are doing both programs and then hoping to switch to all NGA. Competing for both programs has been different. Isabella, a level 10 athlete at Ace Gymnastics, says, “I like it because then I feel like we get to have the same amount of meets as last year, and it gives me more opportunities to do better because the lower levels only have like two meets, but we have more.” Ace Gymnastics is only having its level 9 and 10s compete in USAG and NGA. Levels 3-8 are competing in only NGA. The challenging part of competing for both programs is that there is a meet every week. During competitions, the athletes do not take a lot of turns, but it is mentally draining. 

Another thing that has been difficult for all athletes is dealing with covid. All gyms were closed for three months last year. Then some gyms have been on and off because of any covid cases that got into the gym. The restriction on how many people are allowed in a building caused gymnastics hours of practice to decrease. I asked Christina Markos, who is a junior at Ipswich high, “how has this year been different than others?” She said, “covid has changed it a lot. This year for me personally has been more challenging because I have needed to gain many skills due to level change.” I asked a similar question to Isabella. She said that “the vibe is just not the same, and we can not be near each other. Overall, it is just not the same.” I agree with both of them. Gymnastics is a sport that you need time to build your mental and physical health to do new skills. The social distancing part does not seem like it would impact gymnastics a lot because it is an individual sport, but it has. The gym is a home, and your teammates are like your sisters. Imagine going home every day and not being able to hug your sister. 

One way that people do gymnastics with less commitment, as a club gymnastics team requires, is High School gymnastics. They only require two hours a day, three times a week, for practice. Christina says, “club gymnastics is more serious and more demanding/time-consuming” than high school gymnastics. Abby Wallace is a freshman at Ipswich High school and has cheered her whole life. This year she wanted to try out gymnastics, so she joined the  Ipswich/ Gloucester high school gymnastics team. She says that her first year of gymnastics was “amazing, and it was a great experience. I loved it!.” “It was a positive space with supportive teammates, and can not wait to do it again next year!” That is what gymnastics does, it brings people closer together. 

No matter what level or what team you are in, gymnastics is a remarkable sport to get involved in. Isabella and I have been doing gymnastics for about ten years now, and neither one of us would go back in time and choose a different sport. If you do gymnastics, gymnastics will be part of you for the rest of your life. Isabella says that gymnastics has “shaped me to be a better person and a team player because you have to think about outer people and not just yourself.” To us all gymnasts, gymnastics is not just a sport or a hobby, but our life.