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“I’m an average gymnast. To me, competition isn’t always about winning. It’s about the drive.”

I nervously step into the arena, itching at my rhinestone-covered leotard. My hair is pulled back in a tight bun as voices echo off the ceiling that soars above my head. The cold concrete floor tickles my bare feet. I search for my teammates and spot them at the far side of the room. Rushing over to see them, I pass many other gymnasts on the way. A booming voice fills the auditorium: “All gymnasts may begin warming up.” Feet pound the ground as we tumble across the springy mat. We take off our team jackets and capris and stand for the national anthem. My heartbeat accelerates.

“You now may go greet the judge,” the loudspeaker blasts. We line up and head to the judge’s table. There we say hello, and she wishes us good luck. I step up to the blue floor and stand, chin up, straight arms, waiting to begin. I hear my name sing throughout the auditorium as the judge salutes. Returning the signal, I raise my hands above my head. It’s go time. Straight back, pointed toes, I get into my starting position.

A Handful of Magic

The first note of my floor routine rings throughout the auditorium. Matching the rhythm of the music, I dance across the floor. I reach the corner and prepare for my first tumbling pass. Hurdling into a roundoff, I launch myself forward. Quickly, I connect one back handspring and then another. With a sigh of relief, I stick the landing and continue my routine.

Accelerando . . .

My steps quicken, naturally pairing with the tempo of the music. My eyes track the next corner as I prepare for my leap pass, arms extended to the side. Floating across the floor, I throw myself into the air as my legs straighten into a split.

Crescendo . . .

The music gets louder as my body fills with adrenaline.

Ritardando . . .

The music slows as I make my way to the corner, steeling myself for the finale.

I stand at the edge of the floor, feet neatly tucked into the corner, heartbeat racing. I take a deep breath and run . . .

I’m an average gymnast. To me, competition isn’t always about winning. It’s about the drive.

Audrey Tushman
Audrey Tushman, 12
Wellesley, MA

Tatum Lovely
Tatum Lovely, 12
Pipersville, PA