For Parents Why do high level JO gymnastics?

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To be honest, I really don’t question either pursuit, but when reading the OP I did think to myself that if I had a kid training Elite, I’d likely be doubting my gymnastics choices even more than I do now with an Optional gymnast! Just because it is so much more expensive and demanding and time consuming.

I probably should have said I don’t understand why OP wouldn’t have the same feelings about pursuing Elite.
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I've thought a lot about this topic, and will add yet another answer- because they can. How amazing is it to have a healthy body that can do these complex skills? I want my kids to use their healthy bodies in pursuit of whatever sports they enjoy, and I suspect they'll always be glad they learned the things they did through gymnastics. I was a diver and to this day I still routinely have dreams about those years of flipping and spinning though the air--all that joy that came through learning new skills and nailing a dive. It was fantastic. I'm glad my kids have that.
When DD was a toddler and kindergartner, she was horribly, cripplingly shy. The one thing she loved to do on the playground was the monkey bars, but any time another kid got on the playground, she's stand on the sidelines, just watching and waiting for them to leave, because she was too anxious about being on the equipment with other kids. Her anxiety then made her a target for bullies. I read a book which recommended building on your child's strengths to overcome social anxiety, and so I signed her up for recreational gymnastics hoping it would help. She was ID'd by her rec coach as having potential for team, but even the pre-team coach told me that she was concerned my DD would be too shy to perform at meets. I told her I would handle it (which I did, by telling then 7-yo DD that I didn't care how she performed her routines, the most important thing to me was that she was there for her teammates to cheer them on) and now that DD is an 11-yo L6, she tells me that she will not quit gymnastics until she gets injured. I was not expecting this. Going into it 6 years ago, I honestly thought we would be done after L4 at the most. As a L4 last season, she placed between 1st and 7th AA at each meet, but to me, that's beside the point. She's an entirely different kid now, one who has gone from being victimized by playground bullies to one who stands up to them, not just for herself, but for other kids. Her peers respect her because of her athleticism and physical strength. I have seen how my daughter's self-confidence has skyrocketed thanks to this sport, and I cannot bring myself to take that away from her, even if her baby brother and I both genuinely miss her while she trains 4 1/2 hours a day, four days a week. DD says she wants to go on and compete in college, not because she needs a scholarship (we have a college fund for her and are fortunate enough to have enough to send her to any university of her choice in the US) but because she says she wants to coach one day, and she knows she builds gymnastics cred and has a better choice of landing a coaching position she wants if she competes successfully herself. Do I wish she had different life goals? Yeah, kinda. Her father and I are both academics who would never have thought we'd be raising a jock. But it's not my life to live. It's hers. Gymnastics is her passion. I'm going to let her pursue it as long as she wants to.
It was an option for DD a few years back....for DD it really came down to would you be one of the best 4 gymnasts in the world by 2020 and is that worth the lifestyle change that comes with going elite. Either way she will still be able to reach her goal of competing in college
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Mine wants to keep competing as long as possible because she loves it. It's her passion. If it was up to me she'd never have started -- this is her thing.

She's shown so much determination and growth as a person since starting gymnastics! It's been lovely to watch and I'm happy to support her as much as possible for as long as she still loves and wants to continue doing it.
......for parents whose kid does not intend to or, for whatever reason, can't pursue Hopes or Elite:

.......the college gymnastics thing is an uncertainty anyway. A lower level or standard of education for the potential of competing in college with a sports scholarship seems counter intuitive.

The road to making it to the national team is exponentially harder in every conceivable aspect. And then if that was not bad or hard enough, the chances of making it is even exponentially smaller than getting a college scholarship. There is inconceivably more uncertainty in trying to make it to the national team than it is to get a college scholarship. Your daughter as a 13 year old Level 9 has a more realistic chance of getting a scholarship than making it to the national team.

My daughter started gymnastics late but qualified both as a 9 and 10 year old to Tops National Testing. Her coach then had elite aspirations for her. We switched gyms when she was an 11 year old Level 9. This is her 5th year as a Level 10. She was injured every single year in Level 10; and they were not minor injuries either. She rarely competed all events and I can't think of a meet where she was at least 90% healthy. She had surgery last year and to date, still experiences pain. She still can't do numbers. Despite all her setbacks, she snagged a commitment to a Division 1 college. It is an Ivy so there is no scholarship but it would have been extremely difficult to get through admissions without the LOS from the coaches. And since it is an Ivy, her future is even brighter. And I can honestly say, if she never got injured, had the best coaches, worked her butt off, it is still highly unlikely she would have made the national team.

The benefits to do a sport to the highest level you can is enumerable.
I started gymnastics for my daughter in a parent tot class at 15 months. She fell in love! We tried swimming, dance, karate, and none of them ever held her passion or commitment like gymnastics did. Now she is (almost) 10 and will be a second year 4 next season (we just finished our season before Thanksgiving). She LOVES it. She loves being in the gym...learning new skills, working on improving existing skills. She is a shy personality, and this sport has really given her confidence in herself, and allowed her to be a part of a really amazing group of girls.

She is not your "typical" build for a gymnast as she is tall for her age. Elite is not something we have ever thought of for her. In fact, I never expected her to go JO..I thought we would go back to our rec center for the rec league because she is not your "typical" gymnast build, but our gym so talent and passion and commitment from her and she is doing amazingly well in JO. While she has dreams of being a collegiate gymnast, she knows that academics are her priority. So while I would never discourage this dream, I also know that it is not likely a reality (due to skill, limited scholarships available, etc) ad it is not really our end goal. But she is learning how to be dedicated to something, to give her all, to be a part of a team, and to learn skills to battle her own social shyness/anxiety.

She can do gymnastics until she is done. What ever level that takes her to...we will support. While there is a risk of injury, there are financial and time burdens for us a family...she loves it. She has a passion for it and that is something we want to encourage as long as we can. The rest we work hard to make work, find balance for the family as a whole.
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