Saying goodbye to athletes is the hardest part of this job, but watching them move on and go into life armed with the skills gymnastics has taught them is the biggest blessing I could ever ask for. Ali has been with us for 10 years and as she enters her senior year and her last season of gymnastics I have been reflecting on what an integral part of our team she has been and how she has grown and how we have grown with her. Ask any of our kids, they love Ali. They look up to Ali. They want to be like Ali. The thing is though, they want to be like her because of who she is- not just because she is an amazing athlete. She is strong, and coragous and responsible. She is self driven and knows how to set goals and work to acheieve them and handles dissapointment with grace and dignity. All features that i myself even as an adult admire about her.
As we enter her last season we have had our moments of “Last first meet of the season ever!” and “you have nothing to lose at this point, so go out there and kill it” but i also find her and I both avoiding the realization this is all coming to an end. We try not to talk about it to much, and even though her body and mind are tired from this daunting sport her soul is forever bounded to the sport of gymnastics. Its interesting to me how this last season has brought us all into a new one. A new one of just watching her chapter come to a close.
As she moves forward into this least season in gymnastics while also moving into a new one in her life i couldnt be more proud of the work we do here and the kids we get the be a part of. She is walking, talking, living proof that good parenting (Sean and Sheri, yall really should write a book!) and the sport of gymnastics can create some of the strongest, most well rounded and wonderful children and adults in the world. From the outside looking in its easy to just see a kid who has grown up and is graduating out of her sport. For us on the inside, its a tough transition full of beautiful moments and hard ”lasts”. She has a team of people around her who have loved, supported, and celebrated and mourned this sport with her for years and as i comes to an end- i think i speak for us all (her team mates, her coaches, her parents, the other gym parents) when i say that its been a beautiful and amazing ride, and we are all so blessed we got to watch.