Gymnasts train in the Frenship Community

Ariela Cantu works on her spins on the floor before moving her routine on the balance beam Monday at TEGA. (Photo by Luke Backus)Alyssa Mensen and Alyssa Giles are just two of the many gymnasts who practice every other day at TEGA.

With each flip and every flop, the young gymnasts seem to improve their skills.

Gymnastics is becoming popular among many Frenship students.

TEGA, located on the 7800 block of 82nd Street, is helping the Frenship community embrace the sport.

“We are a kids complex that offers many things,” said Al Gamboa, manager at TEGA. “We have the artistic sport of gymnastics, which is for girls, the vault bar, beam and floor. For boys, we have the floor, pommel horse, vault, rings, parallel bars and high bars.”

Gamboa said the students dedicate as much time to the sport of gymnastics as a football player would dedicate to his sport.

“As with any sport, you get what you put into it,” said Gamboa. “Their dedication is pretty strong.”

The gym has two separate groups of students. One attends a three-hour practice on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The other group attends Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

“During the competition season we are traveling a lot,” said Gamboa. “We are giving up two or three days during the week to travel. In other sports, you train for a week or two and then it is time to hit the field. Well, this sport demands yearlong training so you can be ready for competition.”

Mensen of Terra Vista and Giles of Crestview have made gymnastics part of their daily routines.

A gymnast’s day begins like many students’. Their daily gymnastic routine does not come into play until 4:30 p.m. every other day when they attend a three-hour practice at TEGA.

Both Mensen and Giles said they have made gymnastics part of their daily routine because they enjoy it.

Christian Sinklier practices his front hand springs with the help of his instructor, Larry Warren, Monday at TEGA. (Photo by Luke Backus)“I enjoy doing it,” said Mensen. “I like learning new skills.”

Giles understands the need to practice everyday.

“It keeps me focused on my routine,” said Giles. “I have been in gym for about five years. It is pretty tough. We do cartwheels, beam, front handsprings and floor. I would like to be in the Olympics.”

Allison Eudy, a gymnast coach, said the average competitive gymnast at TEGA will spend up to 20 hours per week practicing in the gym.

“These girls put in a large time commitment into the sport, and that is definitely required to be a competitive gymnast,” said Eudy. “It is not a seasonal sport like a lot of the others. (Gymnasts) actually practice year round. Really, if you take time off, it is often detrimental to your gymnastics.”

Gymnasts are categorized from levels one to 10. The Elite level comes after a 10 and is considered a professional.

Levels 3-6 compete in the fall, and levels 7-10 compete during the spring. TEGA hosts several competitions and its students will attend level 6-to-8 competitions a year.

“They will go to the meets and warm up and they will compete each of their four events,” said Eudy. “They travel to all these meets and put in all this time, but will end up only competing two or three minutes at each meet.”

Daily routine of a gymnast

7 a.m.: Wake up
8 a.m.: Go to school
3:20 p.m.: Get out of school and prepare for gymnastic practice
4:30 p.m.: Attend gymnastic practice. Warm-up and stretch. Practice routines and different events.
8 p.m.: Leave gymnastic practice and get ready for bed.

Achieving the level 10 status requires both athleticism and dedication, but Gamboa and his coaches encourage each girl to aim for a high goal.

“To reach the college level, you pretty much needs to be a level 10,” said Gamboa. “It is going to take a long time to get where they need to be, and their time in the gym is going to be at least once a day.”

Gamboa said making it to the college level almost always requires a top rank finish in nationals.

“We have sent one boy to Iowa on a college scholarship and one girl to Alaska on a scholarship,” said Gamboa.  “One of our goals here is to keep that trend going.”

Gamboa said achieving the Olympian level requires sacrifice and dedication from both the family and the athlete.

“It is something that takes time, effort and of course money,” said Gamboa. “We would love to produce Olympians, but it is hard to keep kids interested in this area. Everyone knows volleyball and basketball are top priority.”

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