Balance Beam, Balanced Team

Rachel Hoki, Senior Writer

The gymnastics team knows balance, both on and off the beam. The 11-member team encompasses a wide range of experiences and skill levels, which they balance and manage in a variety of ways.

One of the obstacles that comes with such a broad range of skill differences is how practice time will be organized to cater towards every gymnast’s individual goals.

“After warming up together, we usually split between two different events based on skill level or what we all want to focus on,” junior Hannah Vieth said.

On Liberty’s team, different gymnastics skills are categorized as A, B, or C skills, with A skills being the easiest and C skills being the most advanced.

“For example, an A skill would be a back handspring, whereas tumbling (combinations of flips and jumps) would be a C skill,” Vieth said.

As someone who’s participated in gymnastics at Liberty and on club teams for a total of eight years, Vieth has much different experience compared to others. Sophomore Sofia Boulton, for instance, decided to try gymnastics this year after completing her cheerleading season.

“A lot of the more experienced girls have helped me out with learning new skills,” Boulton said.

Interestingly, her background in cheerleading – specifically all the jumping skills she’s acquired from the sport – naturally translated into helping her learn various gymnastics routines, which also involve jumping and landing skills. 

“They really go hand in hand,” she said.

The coaches enjoy seeing these new team members learning new gymnastics elements.

“It’s really great to have new girls who want to try gymnastics. They catch on to new skills quickly, and we’re really impressed with their mindset and their work ethics to try and learn these new skills that they’ve never done before,” gymnastics head coach Miranda Jones said.

Because there are so many different levels of experience on the team, Coach Jones and assistant coach Alyssa Holt made a board where each girl posts a weekly goal on a skill they want to improve upon. The entire team can also see these goals, so they can help and encourage each other to improve.

Since the girls compete both individually and as a team during meets, there is not only a focus on one’s own skill development, but also a strong unity between the team as a whole.

“We’re all here to have fun and spend time together and get to know each other as teammates,” Holt said. “It’s not always about winning or losing; it’s also about improving.”