For nine-year-old Olive Hood, or “Miss O,” gymnastics is as much as a family tradition as it is a fun extracurricular. When looking at the Hood Family, you might never guess that the gymnastics tradition comes from her Dad, who stands over 6 feet tall and weighs over 220 pounds.
“Her (Olive’s) dad competed to Level 8 - which was high back then,” “Miss O’s” mother, Jessica Hood said. “I NEVER was in gymnastics but all our kids did. Her father still does flips all the time.”
Putting a kid in gymnastics is like having a second family, and that includes all the time commitments of a family, Jessica added.
"Miss O" at a competition
“I was shocked by the time commitment,” she said. “During the school year, before the pandemic, she was practicing six hours a week - twice a week. It’s like having a second family - they even had dinner there!”
But “Miss O,” must get it from her Dad because she told me that despite the time commitment,she wants to be a gymnast coach when she grows up, and “teach others how to do tricks too.”
If you have a little girl like “Miss O,” who's in it for the long haul, then here’s some advice from older, more experienced gymnasts for girls her age.
Meredith Hart, competitive gymnast for 11 years
Meredith Hart at one of her first competitions
“Be a little less serious and enjoy the sport more than the competition. A lot of times competitive kids get the idea that they must amount to something because of all the work and dedication put into the sport - whether this be national competitions or scholarships.”
Alison Meisch, former gymnast for 4 years
“Remember to have fun! A lot of times I would get so worked up from not being able to do certain skills. I remember crying and hiding in the bathroom because I was so afraid of failing at my skill (and by failing I mean landing on my neck). Yes it will be hard a lot of the time, mentally and physically. Yes it will push you out of your comfort zone. Yes it requires dedication and determination. But if you’re not enjoying it, then what's the point?”
Tatenda Alex Jasi, gymnast for 15 years specializing in circus
“Learn how to balance your daily activities, like school work, church, friends and gymnastics practice. Teach yourself how to motivate yourself.”
Although “Miss O” isn’t into the higher levels yet, that doesn’t mean she has some advice herself - especially through gymnasts in quarantine.
“Miss O” says:
- Continue gymnastics at home by using a trampoline to do flips
- Ask for a beam or bar for Christmas to keep at home
- Maybe even start a Youtube Channel - like she did
And her final word for kids in competitions - “Take deep breaths and run as fast as you can!”