Jordan recently competed in a gymnastics meet held at the University of Maryland - the Mid Atlantic Invitational. This is the second year he's been at this meet. This is the first time he medaled in an event.
It's a tough meet - coming as it does near the end of the season. Level 5 is usually well represented with boys who have been competing every weekend as part of sectional and regional meets. Most of them are seasoned and used to how a meet works. Most of the boys are used to having a good day or a bad one and being able to brush it off, knowing another meet will happen the next weekend.
It's a little different for our boys in Bermuda.
They only had three meets this year - all overseas. So when they compete, it involves travelling, overnight stays in hotels, missed school days, a lot of attention (and some pressure) put on them to do well, represent not only their gym, but also Bermuda. The boys were written up in the paper, sometimes they are mentioned on the radio, and I also noticed that Jordan's school had his picture on its home page with a write up. To Jordan's credit, he is very nonchalant about the attention. It doesn't seem to affect him, which is good. At the meets I have attended with him, he shows remarkable focus.
Thankfully, this was a good meet for Jordan. At his last one - the Tim Daggett Invitational, despite excellent scores, he did not make the cutoff for medals. It hurt him. He puts so much work into training every day - both at the gym and at home. He chose to challenge himself by competing at a higher level for the first time, when he could have played it safe and dropped to a lower one. But, he didn't.
On the rings - Jordan's best event.
Look at this face. He is so proud of himself. As he should be.
The thing is though, as I was editing this picture, something caught my eye.
This little guy down here.
Maybe he's bored? Maybe he's a little wistful? Slightly jealous? I don't know. It just struck me that on any given day, that could be Jordan or any other boy out there competing. They all want to win so badly.
This is a tough sport for these guys. The strength training and hours they put into it aren't always rewarded with bling around their necks. Some days are good. Some days aren't. Wins are often measured in tenths of a point differentials.
We've faced some long talks with Jordan, explaining good sportsmanship, and how every little misstep out there results in the difference between a win and a loss. More important though is knowing you are improving on each event and doing your best. Even without a medal, we try and reinforce setting personal goals for the season - getting a kip, perfecting the flairs, trying out the bonus moves. We encourage him to cheer on his teammates and congratulate them for their wins too.
It's not easy. When a win is so easily measured by a medal, translating other success milestones is much harder. I've been doing some reading lately on athletic mental coaching. It's really fascinating to read about collegiate and professional athletes whose discipline is more than just physical training. So much of it starts with what's in their head. I suppose if we all had that inner strength, there would be no stopping us.
Mina faces her own athletic challenges as well. Her recent running wins at sports day aside, she has spent the majority of the shool year complaining about gym class and "all that running!!" Day in and day out, she would step into the car and immediately launch into how hard the day was because of gym. It's particularly frustrating for her because she does so well academically. There has never been a parent teacher meeting I have ever attended for her that did not begin with the teacher praising her for her work. I don't mean to brag, although it does sound like it. She deserves all the credit. The worst complaint I ever got about her was one teacher suggesting she put too much pressure on herself when she scored only 19 out of 20 spelling words right. Apparently Mina burst into tears and considered it a "failure."
"Where would she get an idea like that Mrs. Trimarchi?"
It was nice to see her so happy with her ribbons for second place in two athletic events, and a third place in relay. She has many talents that aren't always splashed out in the papers. So it's heartening to see her so happy when it's her time to shine.
Of course, then there's Theo.
All he needs to make him happy is some food.
Life is good when you are just 6 months old.