McKenna Ferris, Madison Rathbun, and National Champion Sabrina Lakehal.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Gemini Gymnastics had a busy season and returned from national competitions in Disney World last month with a championship.
Things are quiet during the summer at gymnastics school and although owner and instructor Amy Garner is enjoying a brief respite, there is always work to be done in preparation for another season of training and competition.
"They are on break now so we are just getting ready to do it all over again," she said. "Ninety percent of the kids moved up to the next level so we are going to teach them those levels and keep going."
Garner, who has been involved in gymnastics for about 40 years, opened her gym some five years ago. She started on Mass Avenue but then made her way to a more centralized location at Western Gateway Heritage State Park.
Her students run from ages 8 to 14 and compete in two different series of competitions throughout the season: USA Gymnastics, the gymnastics governing body, and Amature Athletic Union (AAC).
These meets are staggered throughout the year and athletes can qualify for competitions in their respective levels.
"Depending on what level they are, they have to have a qualifying score to get into sectionals and then from sectionals a qualifying score gets them into states and that is about where we ended up this year in USA," she said.
In the AAU competitions, Garner said eight girls qualified for nationals and went to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., to compete at the AAU Age Group National Championships in June. One of these athletes, Sabrina Lakehal, placed highly in the four apparatus competitions (vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise) in level two and was named a national champion.
"I am proud," Garner said. "Just bringing the girls and seeing them do well is awesome."
Lakehal is Gemini’s first national placer.
Lakehal scored a 9.425 in vault, a 9.05 in uneven bars, a 9.15 in balance beams, and a 9.55 in floor. Her all around score was 37.175 which placed her in third.
Mia Maroney, Danica Dame, McKenna Ferris, Madison Rathbun, Jillian Bump, Maria Halkias, and Rory Pudvar also competed and placed 7, 11, 10, 6, 11, 9, and 8 in their levels, respectively.
Garner said many of her students have increased their level during the season, which means she may have to look at increasing her floor size -- a good problem to have.
"We started off small and actually every year we kept going up," she said. "Our highest athlete started as a level three and now she is a level six she is our top athlete at the moment so I may need to start looking at a new gym."
Garner said her floor is 25.5 feet by 40 feet and regulation is 40 by 40.
She added that between the two organizing bodies, there is a lot of traveling involved in being a gymnast. Whether her girls are traveling to Florida or within Berkshire County, she said seeing different regions and meeting other athletes is an important part of being a young athlete.
"I think it is extremely important to get them outside of the area," she said. "It allows them to see what is out there and see other competitors. Just knowing there is something out there beyond this little city."
Garner said her athletes tend to stay with the program and noted Gemini is a family. Oftentimes girls who go through the program come back to instruct.
"We train them and then they grow up and we train them to teach," she said. "We get generations of siblings."
When asked about the gym's success, Garner attributed it to their training and professionalism however Diana Bump, a mother of one of the gymnasts and Gemini associate, said it was more than that.
"It is all about Amy," she said. "It is about her and how she trains her students."
More information on different class offerings can be found on Gemini’s website.
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