Students discuss how there is more to gymnastics than just what is seen on the Olympics

Jess Canaley, Reporter

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At CHS, many students play a variety of sports ranging from dance to football. However, gymnastics, a commonly known sport for its popularity in the Olympics, makes up a small amount of athletes at CHS. While many are aware of its presence, often times people do not know the amount of dedication and time that it takes to be a successful gymnast or acrobat.

Gymnast and senior George Schrader flips in the air during his practice. Schrader participates in tumbling and different cheerleading events. Throughout the week Schrader does both strength training and different practices with stunts and routines.

Sophomore Jacob Freedman has been doing gymnastics for 13 years. As a child, he used to compete in all six events: rings, vault, high bar, floor, tee bars and pommel bars. Now, he specializes in power tumbling, trampoline and double mini, which is another type of trampoline.

“My mom put me in day classes during the winter because I had nothing better to do and I had so much energy. I’ve just been doing it ever since,” Freedman said.

Senior Matthew “George” Schrader was a competitive gymnast like Freedman for a long time until he switched to competitive cheer to focus on acrobatics and tumbling in the eighth grade, which he continued to do until his junior year.

“My junior year I performed as an acrobat (for the Carmel Marching Band and Color Guard) and since have been training by myself for the immediate future, which entails Purdue cheerleading and eventually auditioning for Cirque du Soleil after college,” Schrader said.

Training for a competitive sport  like gymnastics requires hours each day at the gym working on strength, flexibility and agility in addition to working on the actual tricks and performances. Freedman spends five to six days a week at the gym doing various activities such as working with coaches and personal trainers to train his muscles and also perfect his technique.

“Four days a week I train at Deveau’s School of Gymnastics, and we do all the events. I work with my coaches, and we focus on just flexibility and then the skills,” Freedman said. “Then just a few days a week I go and train with a personal trainer and do workouts just to build upper body, and that’s just strength building and not focused on anything else but strength.”

Schrader has a similar schedule with different focuses and types of training depending on the day of the week.

“Everything is pretty consistent across all extreme sports and acrobatics. Lots of strength training and conditioning with more emphasis on cognition than repetition. We train a complex skill set so practices are a place of learning, and conditioning practices are held completely separate,” Schrader said.

All of the preparation and hours in the gym come down to competition. Freedman explains how gymnastics works on a judging scale of one to 10 with different degrees of difficulty, or DD.

“Baseline is 10 with no extra difficulty, and if you add harder skills, that makes your difficulty harder,” Freedman said. “So if I’m doing a pass that has a 1.1 degree of difficulty, more than the baseline for that level, then my pass would be scored out of 11.1 instead of ten, so it gets added onto. They’ll also deduct from 11.1 instead of 10.” 

Scoring and judging for competitive cheerleading, acrobatics and tumbling differs slightly, according to Schrader. He said it’s more based on the ability of a team to carry out the stunts well overall throughout the two and a half minute span of the performance. The judges look at factors such as difficulty, jumps, techinique and even coed representation.

“Due to the way the scoring system works, a team that falls and takes the deduction could very well win over the team who struggles. So it is normal for coaches and gym owners to dispute and fight with judges,” Schrader said.

At the end of the day, all of the hard work and time that gymnasts and acrobats alike put into their training is well worth it for their one moment of performance, execution of a stunt and the overall bond made between teammates.

“I’ve definitely devoted a lot of my life to gymnastics. It’s a big commitment for me and my family, so I’ve missed out on hanging out with friends and other sports and activities, but it’s definitely worth it,” Freedman said. “I love the sport and it’s just what I’ve always done. It kind of shapes who I am as a person.”