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Proud Parent
Proud Parent
Jul 22, 2010
Haven't posted on the main board since forever. Next week will be my daughter's last week of competitive gymnastics. She's a 16-year-old level 8 (would be a 9 if she continued). She is going off to a semester school for the second half of next year (her choice) and her dad and I (ok, mostly her dad) are pulling the plug on gymnastics because there seems to be little point to her training all summer and all fall to compete one meet before she leaves. Also, if she were to get injured, she would not be able to attend the semester school, which is all about outdoor pursuits... hiking, camping, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, etc. The colleges she's interested in applying to are mainly small, liberal arts colleges and don't even have gymnastics teams, so continuing, even at the club level, isn't an option. She has been hired as a class coach at her gym, though that hasn't started yet.

I've been getting reports from parents of other girls in her training group that their kids are reporting that she seems depressed at practice. She is generally a really happy, upbeat kid, and seems fine at home and in the car on the way to/from practice. She has let us know that she would really like to continue through the summer and fall, but when my DH told her no, she didn't make a big deal out of it.

Of course, it's no surprise that she's sad. She's been doing gymnastics for 11 years and has been at this gym for 6 years. And, as with all gymnasts, she's had very little time to do anything else. All of the friends she hangs out with are gym friends. I guess I'm just looking for stories from those of you who have been through this. How did the transition go? How long did it take for your kid to adjust? Do you have any suggestions that made the transition easier for your kiddo?

Please, I beg you, no messages about how we shouldn't be making her quit. I am already pretty torn up about this, but bottom line is, in 2 years she'll be headed off to college but I'll still be living with my husband so I'm going to support him on this decision. He's never been a big fan of her gymnastics (too much time, too much money) and I've fought for her at every turn. But now I have to agree that other than just, "she doesn't want to quit" and "it's where all her friends are" there doesn't seem to be much point in her continuing for this next half year.
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If she is teaching classes this summer, can she pay for her gymnastics? I can understand your husband with the expenses ( I am assuming this semester away is an added expense), but sorry, the thing with she might get injured doesn't fly with me. All I know is I would not want a depressed 16 year old girl on my hands all summer. Transitioning out of a sport and moving on is hard enough without doing it on your own terms. Also, she may decide that it is not worth it if she is paying the expenses herself.
I think working there over the summer will be a nice way to bridge the gap. Once school starts in the fall, she will be busy with school and preparing to leave for the semester. Of course she's a little sad -- that's a normal response. I would be sad too! But it doesn't mean it's a bad/wrong decision either. Transitions are hard even when the chance you're making is good. Give it a little time and see how she feels once school is out and the next phase actually starts.
Every situation and athlete is different of course, and I cannot yet speak from experience here, but I think the summer gap to transition out might be a very good thing. She can still coach and get used to a rhythm where perhaps she can still see/get together with her gym friends (albeit differently), but have that mental and logistical transition time before Fall, rather than a crazy summer of training then a very abrupt stop to it all at once in Fall.

Change is always hard, and sadness is expected, but this plan makes sense to me and could be a good thing.
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Have her try diving. It's similar to gymnastics and a lot of smaller colleges have teams that she could walk on to. We've found that the injury rate is far, far less so she wouldn't be so much at risk.
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You know, I was thinking about my answer and how probably it isn't the right tone, so I apologize for that. Presumably she is the one that made the decision to go away for a semester, do something new and effectively end her gymnastics career. And for good reason, the program she is doing sounds awesome! I guess I would probably still present to her the idea of her covering her expenses if she wants to continue, but the coaching really does sound like a great way to transition out over the summer. From what you say, it sounds like she will be ok. She has so much to look forward to!
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Sending hugs MaryA. She has been through so much. Please keep us updated. I'm thrilled she gets the chance to coach and go away to school. Where is this exciting semester?

How is dance sister?

Will she be able to or is she interested in doing open gym and playing with it during the summer?
My DS 'retired' from gym last year(Aug). He had also done gym very intensively for 6 years and I wondered how he would cope.
We also actively encouraged him to finish due to the amount of time he spent there and (obviously different from you but it was a toxic atmosphere and I thought enough was enough!).
Anyway just wanted to say that now looking back he is glad, he is happy and enjoying other (more relaxed) activities that he didn't have time for before. He doesn't regret it at all and neither do I.
He did go in and say goodbye to his friends and coaches(and took cake!) and he really wanted to do that as he said often boys just disappeared and he didn't want to do that.
Gym doesn't seem to be like other sports it seems to take over your whole families life!! But I promise you there is life afterwards and you will look back and wonder what all the worry was about!
Good luck.....I have always enjoyed reading your posts and was wondering where you had been!
As you can see I still come to chalk bucket to get my fix!!
If she isn't ready to hang up her grips, maybe she would consider club gymnastics at college. There are actually quite a few schools that have a club team. If that would interest her then maybe it does make sense for her train until she goes away for the semester. I agree that just stopping (as in cold turkey) would be really hard if you still enjoyed the sport. My point is that she doesn't necessarily have to be "done."
I don't have words of wisdom since I'm still on the early end of my DD's gymnastics journey.... But I wanted to send good luck wishes your way. I've always appreciated your posts.

I would be proud (and shocked!) if my DD made it as far in this sport as yours. Your DD really, truly had a good run, and I'm sure gym helped prepare her for life's next adventures.
My dd is still in the gym so we haven't been through it yet but being a level 10 and the intensity that comes along with it has caused both my husband and I from time to time, to ask the question of ourselves if this is all "worth it". The realization that we only have 4 more years with our dd at home before she heads off to college weighs heavily, especially since we never see her!
My advice would be to help her plug through the rest of her time, reassure her that it is normal to feel sad, that she will still make an effort to see her friends from gym, and more importantly she is about to embark on a very new and exciting chapter in her life with lots of new experiences ahead of her. And enjoy the time you have with her before she leaves, because you will probably have some quality time together that you weren't able to have when she was in the gym.

Good luck and hugs to you!
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No good advice, Mary, except to say that even as teenagers, I think they adjust to major life changes easier than adults do. If you're lucky, she might find that anticipating the break from gym is harder than actually managing the break itself. My daughter is a big processor and tends to get very wound up anticipating things, but once they happen, she mostly has her fretting done and she deals with the stressful event well.

I think you also need to recognize this is going to be hard for you! You've been her supporter, her champion, and her partner in this long and highly successful adventure, and it's sad to see it coming to an end.
MaryA Please keep in touch and stick around. I think of your DD often when I read tales of other gymnasts. We need your wisdom and sage advice.
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Thanks everybody for your kind words and advice. I'm surprised anyone still remembers me. I've been sequestered away in my own little private discussion group and rarely venture onto the main board anymore. I will try to do so more often.

Gymmmomoftwo, no worries. I may very well have given similar advice at a different stage of our gym journey. Yes, she made the choice to apply to the school and then to accept their offer, knowing that we expected her to quit gym at the end of the season if she was going. So, in a way, it was her choice. But I know that she would keep training up till the day before she leaves if it was up to her. It's hard knowing what the right choice is, and I constantly second-guess myself... about this and all other aspects of parenting. But I do know that the right choice for my marriage is to back up my husband on this decision, so that's what I'm doing. (Even if he might be WRONG!!!)

B&M, isn't diving a spring sport? I think it is around here at least. She'll be living in the wilds of northern Wisconsin next spring, so I don't think that's an option. She would like to do track (though not cross-country) but again, that's a spring sport.

Txgymfan, here is the link to the school... . Anyone who has "outdoorsy" kids, I encourage you to look into it. Everyone who is accepted receives a full scholarship (though we need to provide several thousand dollars worth of cold-weather gear). I think it's going to be an amazing experience. And, to answer your other question, the dance sister isn't dancing any more. She's shaved off all of her hair (and what's left changes color on a regular basis), pierced every part of her body that I will let her pierce, and is looking into ultra-liberal colleges with majors like "Sexuality, Gender and Queer Studies." Never a dull moment parenting teens...

Homer, thanks for sharing your experience. I'm glad your son transitioned relatively easily. I do hope that, in the end, my DD enjoys taking things relatively "easy." She does have fairly constant back pain (that she just lives with and rarely talks about... and that we've had checked out by all sorts of doctors who have never found the source) and I'm really hoping that it will ease after some time out of the sport and not remain a chronic condition. She says that it hurts more when she sits still for extended periods of time (and she uses that as an argument for staying in gymnastics) but I'm really hoping that it will really and truly heal once she is out of the gym.

LizzieLac, there is not one college on her list so far that has gymnastics in any shape or form. In a way, I feel like getting some coaching experience might actually be her best chance at staying involved in gymnastics for a longer period of time because some of the colleges are near to a town big enough to at least have a gym where she might be able to get a coaching job. Beats the heck out of a lot of the jobs kids work in college!

Again, thanks everyone for the support and advice. It's been a wild ride... 11 years parenting a gymnast! I think our whole family will have some adjusting to do!
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It is a huge adjustment...still adjusting here! My DD is cheering now, and I think what has helped her the most with the transition is having a weekly tumbling class. Keeps her kind of "connected" to her old sport! Would that be an option for your daughter to do from now until she leaves? As far as is taking me much longer to adjust. My child has seemed to never really look back once she finished her last practice.
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I think she will quickly adjust, it's the thought of letting something so constant and her whole life go that's hard.
Coaching will be great.
Is there a teen class or open gym she could do? My dd did a teen class for 6 months that helped her change her mindset.
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Diving around here is a fall/winter sport. She could do lessons without joining a team for now. Depending on what's available, a park district or Y may offer lessons or look for a diving club. We just pay by lesson. My DD left gymnastics due to injury and tried diving and is loving it. She now wants to dive in college and there's a good chance that she can even though she going to be a senior next year and only been diving for 7 months. Good luck. Change is hard but it sounds like she's got some stuff to look forward to.
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I think it will go fine...

DS the elder is slowly transitioning to being done. He'd like to stay officially in gym but not compete again next year, and can only attend a couple days a week and even then if asked to perform or rehearse at the last minute always chooses music now, whereas at 15 gym was chosen, so I feel he's made his choice, just still loves it sounds like your DD has...

I've told him that after his 6 week summer music festival time, if he wants to do gym he has to work full time to compete L10 - which I am certain he won't do...and that will be that. Maybe he'll get to coach some, but the other ex-L10 who hasn't graduated is doing that right now and its a small team. He's made more friends outside of gym this year so that helps...but both he and I are worried he'll get NO exercise...violin just doesn't quite do the same thing as gym!

DD had an initially rough time when she quit, but found friends at school and now with trying to go back to gym is finding it harder to miss movies, study time, etc with them...and gym isn't social for her like it used to be (girls are nice but not besties...). She's slowly getting her skills for L8/9 but I wouldn't be surprised if she discovers also that although she loves "doing gymnastics" still she's ready to move on...also, I think she's tired of everything hurting...flipping a Tsuk hurts, round offs on beam hurt, getting hands back in shape with bars hurts...Here's hoping your DD will have less pain without gym.

And we are starting the college hunt for both (they are finishing freshman and sophomore year) and neither is looking for college gym. I have to say the process is overwhelming at best - DD has been told she has an amazing future in free weight lifting if she gives up on gym, so there's that! It sounds like your DD has exciting things in her future and those will fill the holes left by gym.

Parenting is never easy, and watching them forced to grow up and make choices is hard - esp when gym has been such a huge part of their childhood...
Mary, my daughter is a bit younger, but was in the gym for about a decade, and competing since she was old enough. She retired about 10 months ago now, and it's been going a lot better than I had expected. Instead of 7am workouts, she spent summer learning to stand up paddle board...well didn't take long to learn as she took to it like a fish to water given the balance and strength from gym. Then in the fall she started diving. Within about a six week period she and three others -- a level 8, 9, and a 10 -- all took up the sport at the same club. They are among the best on the team even though they haven't been at it long. Mine will be a freshman in the fall and is looking forward to competing for her high school. It's a fall sport here. She's also performed in musical theater, which was such a surprising turn of events. But she said after being judged for every little detail while wearing a Leo, singing and dancing on stage was easy.

She was basically forced out by a nagging injury, but I had watched her dreams in gym shrink for a while, and she would tell you it was her decision to leave. She went from wanting to do gym in college to not even caring if she made it to level 10. It's an interesting transition, but while she still misses gym and her gym friends, she's much happier now. And I love having her around so much more. Plus, her diving friends are almost all ex gymnasts so there is some built in comradary around that. She has been invited to coach at her old gym once she's old enough, but I think by the time she gets there, gym may simply be a distant memory. It will be the way she spent her childhood, and being done will feel right to her.

Wishing your daughter an equally good transition of of gym. It can be rough, but for us at least life after gym is pretty sweet.
Regarding diving, High School swimming & diving season are at the same time (which probably varies by location).
Club programs practice year-round through, and compete year round as well.
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