When Your Teammate Wins, You Win
SOMETIMES there is one girl on a team who always wins. Perhaps you know exactly what I’m talking about. For the
sake of this story, let’s call her “Jenny.”
Regardless of how close you are to Jenny, her
winning streak is getting old and you’re just
plain sick of it. So is Taylor, the girl whose
shaky legs caused her to tumble off the beam
in every meet so far this season. But the
coaches still rave about her perfect form. In
fact, they often stop everyone and say, “Look
at Taylor’s back leg on her leap. It never
bends.” They sound like a broken record.
“Watch Taylor … look at Taylor’s toe point!”
Ugh! Taylor, with all her ballet training, is
wearing thin on you so much that you decide
to ignore the praise she gets.
Wrong. Her fear issues are a constant
reminder for Jenny to keep the negative
thoughts out. All the bad words — I can’t, it’s
too hard, I’m scared — truly do have consequences.
Hannah started gymnastics much later than
the rest of her team, but she’s quickly improving every year. Hannah’s rapid progress is
motivation for Jenny to never hold back. Who
knows? Maybe next season Hannah might
breeze past Jenny to the top of the podium.
Guess what? Jenny is
watching, trying to improve
and hoping to be the one to
stand out next time. For that,
she owes Taylor a piece of
every medal she wins.
What about you? That’s right, you deserve
of piece of your teammates’ medals. Perhaps
you’ve been the one right behind Jenny all sea-
son. Or maybe Jenny is getting scores you’ve
only dreamt of getting, but I’ll bet there is
something you do
better than Jenny.
Maybe your dance is
better, or your flexi-
bility. And chances
are you’ve helped
her get to the top.
So next time
you’re driving home
from a meet, com-
Regardless of how close you
are to Jenny, her winning
streak is getting old and
And what about Katie?
you’re just plain sick of it.
She spends almost the entire
workout either complaining
or gossiping about whichever teammate isn’t in
her direct ear shot. Seriously, her mouth never
stops moving. Jenny wonders, What is Katie
saying about me? Now she’s determined to
prove Katie’s rumors wrong. It’s a fire Jenny
wouldn’t have if her teammates were all sweet
Stephanie’s impeccable work ethic makes
you groan in agony trying to keep up with her.
If she would just slack a little maybe you wouldn’t have to work as hard. “If Stephanie can do
five press handstands in a row, so can the rest
of you!” your coach always says. Jenny wishes
the same thing. But if Stephanie did slow
down, Jenny wouldn’t be the winner she is
plaining to Mom and Dad about “Jenny,”
remember that just by being on her team,
you’ve helped her win. It’s like being a coauthor, or getting an assist in basketball. And
next time you’re fed up with “Gossiping Katie”
or the “New Girl” who’s getting all the attention, figure out a way to use all your teammates to help you pave the way to the top of
the podium, and most importantly, achieve
your goals. You don’t even have to like your
teammates to let them help you. If someone
makes you mad, use it. If another teammate
makes you laugh, use that.
Shy, timid Claire, who wasted 30 minutes of
her bar workout standing on the low bar willing
herself to go for that dismount and coming up
short, has nothing to offer Jenny, right?
And when “Jenny” is standing in first place,
yet again. it’s OK to smile and be proud that
you helped her get there. It’s also OK to hope
that next time it’s you who has to share your
medal. —Julie Cross
Former gymnast Julie Cross is a coach in Champaign,
Ill., and has two daughters in gymnastics.
GYMNASTICS is definitely an art form, and your body is the medium.
So it is really important to involve your
entire body during skills such as the
arabesque shown below.
Note how American Ivana Hong is
using her arms to complement the positions of her legs. The position of her
right arm and hand is completing the
curve of her right leg, and her left arm
is lifted high to balance the left leg.
Also, her head is held up to follow the
slight arch in her back.
There is no firm rule as to where you
must place your arms. Ask your coach
to help you find the best positions, or
practice your poses in front of a mirror
and judge for yourself. When you learn
the proper way to extend your lines,
don’t be surprised if you also raise your
Ivana Hong (USA) at the 2009 Worlds
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