As I head into my last months of rhythmic,I've been constantly impugned with questions like: "Why are you still doing gymnastics? Don't you have other things you would rather be doing?"
Well, if you're asking this, you obviously don't understand me.
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Last spring, I seriously contemplated a "normal" life -- one without gymnastics. I pictured all the advantages: enough sleep, no over-exhaustion, more time to see my friends.
Every summer marks the beginning of three months of gymnastics camp, or what I affectionately term "rhythmic boot camp."
Here I am, out of gymnastics for an unknown time, doing conservative treatment -- resting and confined to crutches -- even though it may not improve the condition.
What saddens me is that rhythmic gymnastics is being judged by its appearance. Rhythmic is so much more than leotards and make-up.
The 2008 Massachusetts State Championships pops on, and I see 13-year-old Elaine enter the carpet. Her raven black ribbon spirals to life as the music, a tango, marches on. My jaw drops.
I practice my routine with forced optimism, smiling even though I'm shaking on the inside. When I make a mistake, I push myself to continue and keep my focus on what I'm doing.
My routine wasn't even close to perfect, but what matters is I tried my best and enjoyed myself. No regrets.
It's three days before Regionals. With one training left and a handful of papers and tests to tackle before then, I nearly live and breathe one word: panic.
On the first day of school I remember being asked to share something unique to me, and I immediately blurted out "rhythmic gymnastics."
My practice is messy and unfocused, as I have not completely shaken off the memories of my last toss. However, as time progresses, I start to feel less crushed and more determined to do my best.
I instantly snap into performance mode, salute the judges, and assume my pose. Everything goes flawlessly for a few moments, and then my ball routine transforms into a game of cat-and-mouse.
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