High Fliers: Gymnasts find success in state competition

Senior Delaney Schaffner and sophomore Samantha Boyle are currently level nine gymnasts at Ruby Gymnastics Academy, and both found success in the state competition in Des Moines hosted by Sapphire Gymnastics on March 10.

Boyle tied for first on bars, placed fourth on beam and third on all-around. Boyle also qualified for Regionals on April 7-9.

Coach Patti Lee said, “Delaney is our first gymnast to graduate, and it is a very emotional road to take. I am looking forward to watching what she does with her adult life going forward. She is a very determined young lady with goals along her road.”

State was Schaffner’s end to a great gymnastics career. She placed second on beam. She plans to continue her academics but is undecided about college. Schaffner also plans to stay involved in the gymnastics world through judging, as she is now certified to judge through levels seven and eight.

“I was nervous, but I was more excited to get out on the floor and do what I love one last time surrounded by my family and friends,” Schaffner said. “Gymnastics has been in my life for so long, and I don’t want to just be done with the sport. I still love it, and it means so much to me. I plan to continue keeping my heart in the sport as long as I can, and I think judging is an excellent way to do that.”

Both gymnasts spend approximately 18 hours at the gym in addition to being full time students. Managing school work and four-hour-long practices each night can be quite difficult, but these gymnasts have become pros.

Schaffner said, “I have had a lot of practice at time management with school and gymnastics, so I have gotten pretty used to balancing school work and activities with four hours of gymnastics practice each night.”

Boyle said, “It’s not too difficult to manage gymnastics with school because I’ve gotten into a routine where I will do homework before or after practice or on our break if I have time.”

But finding the right balance for pursuing their gymnastic passions is worth it for these girls. Schaffner said, “My favorite thing about gymnastics is the feeling of hard work being paid off. I love the process of working so hard for so many hours to get a new skill, connection or routine, and the feeling you get when you finally achieve what you’ve been working so hard for and the entire gym is cheering for you is worth all the hard work and time put in. I also love the people I’ve had the opportunity to get to know and meet through gymnastics. I’m with my teammates and my coaches more than I’m with my own family. They’re all like family to me, and the gym is my home away from home.”

In gymnastics, there are four events: vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor. The scoring is out of 10 points, and there are usually two judges judging the routine.

January through March is traditionally an optional (level 6-10) competition season. Lately the girls have been busy with a lot of meets all over the midwest.

Along with being incredible student athletes, these girls are also role models for all of the younger girls.

“They have become team leaders in the gym, supporting both their team members and the younger recreational gymnasts any way that they can,” Lee said. “I hope to see both the girls excel in whichever road their adult lives take them. They have learned many life lessons in the gym that will hopefully come into play in their adult lives.”

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