Young gymnasts and their supportive parents and coaches packed the Princess Alexandra School gymnasium on April 27 for a variety of entertaining performances.
Over 30 young athletes from the Hay River Gymnastics Club took part in a gymnaestrada – a non-competitive gymnastics event combining dance and music for all ages and skill levels – under the theme of retro cartoons.
Angela Carter, one of four coaches with the club, said the gymnasts performed incredibly well despite only learning their routines a few weeks ago.
“We did the dress rehearsal last night, so the kids only had about two hours to make sure they got everything right,” she said, referring to the evening before the gymnaestrada.
The club has only been able to train every second weekend due to limited gymnasium availability.
“They really impressed me. We have lost a lot of kids this year because often gymnastics comes second to other sports such as hockey or figure skating. So attendance fluctuates, but for them to pull this off in the end is great,” Carter added.
She praised the performances of Kaitlyn Ring and Samantha Goodwin, part of the advanced recreation level, who had to re-tool their routine at the last second because two members of their group couldn’t make it.
“They trained until 10 p.m. last night and could have gone to a soccer tournament in Yellowknife this weekend instead, but didn’t,” Carter said. “This is good for the younger gymnasts because it gives them someone to look up to, and it keeps the club going.”
Eleven-year-old Ring, who has been doing gymnastics for the past six years, said she enjoys the feeling of validation above everything else.
“I love it when you complete something, the feeling you get right after,” she said.
Her partner, Samantha Goodwin, was proud of their performance, which was carried out to the theme of the movie ‘Transformers’. She said she gets a kick out of completing two gymnastic moves in particular.
“The roundoff (performing a cartwheel and landing on both feet) and the back walkover,” she said.
Club president Nikki Ashton, who teared up while thanking parents and coaches after the event, said it’s been a struggle all season for the club to remain constant.
“It’s hard for the kids because sometimes there are long stretches where we can’t use the gym,” she said. “It’s difficult to improve because they have to retain those skills for the next time. We used to have a competitive program where we trained three times a week. So now we hope it’ll progress and we can get more parents to volunteer and help set up the equipment.”
Ashton said it isn’t uncommon for the set-up to take more than 40 minutes.
The club has been trying to get its own facility for many years, she said, but it’s just too expensive.
— Myles Dolphin