Tuesday, August 25, 2015

acro season gearing up

It's that time of year! Summer is winding down and the kids have school at the top of mind-- and new acro partnerships! 

We just finished up the last of the school supplies shopping, which means I've had my yearly talk with the kids about how lucky they are to be in a school where the school can request long lists of supplies and parents can donate to the classrooms. We talk about classrooms just over the hills from us where this is surely not the case, where teachers are dealing with supply shortages that we might think of as their problem, but are our local issue, too. Because what kind of strength can our state and country have if so many kids aren't supported to learn? These are questions that go well beyond school supplies, and with no answers in sight.

It's also time for simpler, sweeter questions like "Who will be my acro partners this year?" The girls have had a fun summer trying out with a number of partners. In the next few weeks, they'll finalize partnerships, and then there's the fun of finding music for routines, choreography sessions, and figuring out what their competition leotards will look like. As a parent, I always feel like I'm learning in this sport, but since we've had at least one kid on the competitive team for three (going on four) years now, I'm also recognizing the rhythm of the season.

Last weekend, our gym hosted a mini clinic for an acro gym starting up. S and her partner really enjoyed performing their routine and putting on their purple-and-cheetah competition leos from last year. I think it was fun for them to perform alongside their elite level teammates, as well. 

Looking forward to a fun year ahead!

My young one and partner had fun!

Elite women's trio, nailing it

Elite women's trio, solid as a rock

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Acrobatic Gymnastics National Championship: First thoughts

We're back from Greensboro, NC, and the acrobatic gymnastics national championship!

I've been thinking about what it was like for the kids and how very impressed I am that they willingly (even enthusiastically) chose this endeavor. Ever taken one of those Very Serious multi-day exams to which you had to fly or drive forever, get your ID checked a million times, and sit in a cavernous concrete convention center under cold flickering fluourescent lights with your fight or flight response on full blast the whole time?

That's what a week at the acrobatic gymnastics national championships is like, except there's also a podium, judges, and (thankfully) fun bonding moments with other athletes. I was gratified to see Paloma quietly join her competitors at the civil rights museum in downtown Greensboro, where our families took an intense guided tour together. 

It's very demanding for the competitors.  So it was a tremendous lesson for me, as it always is, to see how these kids, ages 6 and up, adapt to that pressure, do their jobs, and then embrace fun when it's time for that. I hope these lessons translate to other areas of their lives as they grow. 

(Make no mistake-- the schedule was intense for the parents/caregivers too, with a daily by-the-minute email update (at 9:46 AM, be at the venue, at 10:41, this group competes...). The coach very plainly states it: "This is not a family vacation." Indeed, it's a family endeavor to make it all happen.

So, I am a bit tired but so grateful for the experience. Paloma and Sabrina both did a great job with the pressure and the fun. I learn a lot from them both about the many ways to approach pressure, and pleasure, successfully.

More pictures of the team are at West Coast Training Center's Facebook page; more of the elites, along with rhythmic and tumbling/trampoline at the USA Gymnastics Facebook page.

Originally published at my main site, anitasarahjackson.com. But I plan to post acro-related things here.
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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Mindy Kaling's commencement speech at Harvard Law School

"Law is that pesky thing getting in the way of justice."

"I believe in the Clint Eastwood school of the law."

"Your dedication to meticulous reading is a tedium that I find just so admirable."

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Poem of the Day: Love like Salt

Love Like Salt
by Lisel Mueller

It lies in our hands in crystals
too intricate to decipher

It goes into the skillet
without being given a second thought

It spills on the floor so fine
we step all over it

We carry a pinch behind each eyeball

It breaks out on our foreheads

We store it inside our bodies
in secret wineskins

At supper, we pass it around the table
talking of holidays and the sea.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Way to go, Coach Marie! WestCoast Training Center's Head Coach receives highest coaching distinction

WestCoast's owner and Head Coach, Marie Annonson, has achieved the highest level of coaching distinction: Master of Sport. This puts Coach Marie in the company of a small group of gymnastics coaching greats. The list, found on the USA Gymnastics website, is full of coaching luminaries.

Among Marie's achievements:

  • She has produced world champions and internationally ranked athletes 
  • She's contributed greatly to developing technical aspects of the sport
  • She's ranked internationally herself as an athlete
And she's growing WestCoast Training Center by leaps and bounds, developing the gym into a thriving business and fixture of the community.

Clearly, Marie is an eminently qualified choice for the Master of Sport designation.

The community is rightly proud of her-- check out the support for her on one of the most popular posts on the WestCoast Facebook Page. And fellow blogger dadheartsacro wrote a post in support, as well.

As for me, I'm grateful everyday not only for the coaching skills, but for the community and culture of support and family that Marie has built at WestCoast. There may be no formal award for that (besides our tuition dollars), but to me, there's no better indication of what a healthy, happy place it is.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

AcroArmy: Photos & Video from Finale Demonstrate Technique + Love + Guts for America's Got Talent 2014

An intensely pure expression of love and athleticism on tv. AcroArmy gave everything, everything, and did it with supreme professionalism. And a certain fearlessness about sharing their hearts which I deeply respect. This is my daughters' sport, acrobatic gymnastics.

They are just at the beginning of their journey, but already I can see how they're learning the value of:

  • very very hard work
  • sticking with something even if you're struggling
  • respecting your teachers and coaches
  • trusting your partner
  • earning that trust by meeting your responsibility to catch your partner
  • loving what you do, both the big accomplishments and the small daily triumphs
  • loving others
Let the photos tell the rest of the story.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

AcroArmy: Tonight's the night! A photo retrospective before America's Got Talent finale

In honor of tonight's final performance of AcroArmy on America's Got Talent, I've put together pictures taken throughout the exciting journey of these beautifully hard-working, dedicated elite athletes over the past few months, starting with the most recent triumph.

It has been fun and gratifying to see the acro community as well as the wider gymnastics community come together to support these athletes. Most understand the tremendous commitment it takes to pull off these performances, as well as the level of trust and responsibility (as Arthur Davis III, the choreographer himself, says) to accomplish these skills, all while communicating a sense of joy and love to the audience.

For all they have already accomplished, for all the people they've inspired, for all the beauty they've given the world, we can celebrate right now.

And for the top prize, we'll vote (and vote again!) and celebrate tomorrow!

Howard looks like he truly respects the athletes of AcroArmy. All four judges were on their feet.

WestCoast's competitive team wishes AcroArmy "Good luck!" 

You can watch the WestCoast "Good luck!" video in full here.

Arthur Davis III explains his vision and love for the sport and the athletes. His steadfast commitment has inspired so many inside and outside the gym.

I think these may be the chalky hands of Brian Kincher.

One step closer! On to the next round.

We took over the hotel lobby in Kentucky during the US National Championships for Acrobatic Gymnastics. AcroArmy was on!
We all gathered around the tv in the hotel lobby to cheer on AcroArmy and the athletes we knew from our home gym.

Three young acrobatic gymnasts with Ryan Ward at the US National Championships for Acrobatic Gymnastics. This photo was taken in July, just as the AcroArmy train was gathering steam. At that point, they knew him more for his accomplishments in Region 1 as much as for anything else.
And though this post celebrates the sport's elites, I love and support every kid who tries this, from the ones who can't (yet!) do a cartwheel to the ones who invent skills the rest of the world has to catch up to (looking at Ani Smith and her G-So). In fact, I have a special place in my heart for the brave ones who are just starting out, just learning their own heart, their own fears and resistances, their strengths and joys via acro. It's beautiful to watch their development.

You can share your support for AcroArmy in a variety of ways, lucky you:

Whatever happens tonight, I think it's safe to say that NBC/America's Got Talent sees value in this sport (maybe not measured by the same metrics we parents use, but still). I think we'll see them in a Vegas show and beyond. I hope so.

Looking forward to tonight and beyond!

(All photos shared here were taken by me. If you'd like to share a "Go AcroArmy!" picture of yours here, leave a comment and I'll get in touch, then add with your credit. Or feel free to add a link to it in the comments! And if you'd like to use a picture here, just ask!)

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