Zoie Johnson began her journey at Moseley Gymnastics when she was just 2 years old as a Diaper Monkey. She worked her way through our gym monkey preschool program and became a member of team lazer on our pre-team just one month before her 5th birthday. You might say, "well she has this sport down by now because she's a veteran." What many of you don't know is the struggles Zoie has faced and the triumphs that followed.
Zoie started struggling very early on with her upper body strength because gymnastics is a sport of strength, there is only one way to go about pushing through this problem and that is to get stronger. Despite the fact that she worked closely with our on staff and coaches to on her conditioning to get stronger she has steadily struggled on bars because of the upper body strength required to execute the skills.
In the summer of 2018 the decision was made to move Zoie, despite her lower skill level on bars, off of our pre-team and onto our bronze level competitive team. Her coaches worked even closer with her mom, Gina, to set her up for success. She came to a nutritional session with Coach Ellen who helped her to understand the importance of proper vitamins, minerals, hydration and balanced meals on her performance and strength, she did private lessons with Coach Pam and Coach Taylor to work on her pullover on bars which is a requirement at her level, and she pushed herself hard during conditioning to get stronger. Through all of it her mom stood by cheering her on regardless of her temporary inability, and she trusted her coaches and the process without doubt that Zoie would eventually get the skill she needed to not only be successful on bars but to eventually help her promote to the next level. Despite Zoie's hard work, Gina's unrelenting faith in her daughter and her coaches pushing her in every area they could, Zoie was unsuccessful in getting the pullover mount she needed for bars.
Now many of you may be asking yourself why all of these adults in her life would put her through all of this only to watch her fail, but the truth is, through all of it, Zoie just kept showing up and working hard. She loved it and continued to tell her mom she wanted to keep going, so at the start of the 2019-2020 season, the coaches, her mom and Zoie had a discussion about her staying in the bronze level another year, and about the fact that, unless Zoie could get the pullover mount she needed for bars, she was would not be able to move again next season. With the agreement of Zoie and her family, it was decided that she would add to her gym time this year and instead of coming for the normal 8 hours a week, she would now attend 12 hrs a week of training time to increase her chances of success. With this came more skill training time and more conditioning time. This was a big commitment from both Zoie who would be putting in the training time and her family who would be responsible for getting her to and from class everyday.
The first two meets of the season passed with the same results. Still no pullover. Then last weekend at the out of state meet in Denver, Colorado came the moment we had all been waiting for. She stepped up to the bars and saluted the judge. Her hands touched the bar and in an instant the coaching staff, her family and her teammates erupted with cheer as Zoie pulled herself over that bar like a champion. I wish I had a close up picture of her mom's face as she beamed with pride. You could tell she was about to start crying. The funny thing is that it isn't about the skill, but instead about the journey. Zoie could have given up at any point and not one person would have faulted her for it because she truly was giving it 100% when she was in the gym training. Her body just wasn't cooperating with her efforts.
As Zoie finished her routine with pride in her heart and a smile on her face we all knew that she had learned how to believe in herself. She had learned to push herself more than she thought was possible, train harder than she thought she could and most of all believe in herself as long as it takes to make it happen. She became a champion in all of our eyes that day and now she knows how to be a champion in life too.
Be sure to give her a pat on the back the next time you see her because it's been a long time coming and she has earned it.