Verity's Turn

Friday, March 1, 2013

You may remember about a year and a half ago, give or take a month, I was excited to report on my eldest daughters foray into highland dancing.  Well, now it's Verity's turn.

As I spoke of just a week or so ago, Verity has been training in gymnastics since she was three years old.  Last year was a bit of a pill to swallow for her as she was training with a slightly older group of girls who were all of age to compete....but Verity was not.  So she had to listen to the coaches constantly talking about competition etiquette, competition expectations, etc.  Finally, she's old enough.  She is entered in 3 competitions this season, one each month, the first one being today.

It was in Niagara Falls and being one of the littlest gymnasts, her registration time was 7:30am.  Which meant we have to leave the house by 6:00am.  Which meant we had to get up at 5:00am.  Grooaaan.

It was all well and good though.  Ever conscious of our budget, I made sandwiches and muffins last night after getting the kids into bed early.  Which meant we got them into bed by their bedtime, [snort].  This was after having stopped for sponge curlers on the way home from teaching to put Verity's hair up because our clubs hairdo expectation involves copious curls.  She's got her momma's fine hair, so curly she was this morning!

We actually got into Niagara Falls early so had plenty of time to bathroom everybody up, get registered, stamped and secure spots on the bleachers.

We quickly spotted some of Verity's teammates, and also 2 girls and a coach from her old gym.  It was nice to see some familiar faces.

Then came the official 'march-in', with each team being announced and holding placards with their gym name.  There were about a dozen gyms represented.

The kids all ran around and warmed up after this, and at 8:30 sharp, the events began.  Verity was on beam first.

I've been really impressed with how much more polished Verity looks this year.  Before this she never seemed to pay as much attention to her feet, or hands.  When she 'presented', it always looked less....impressive than what I was used to seeing at gymnastics events on TV.  Now she's got that little bit of showy.

Here she is starting her floor routine.  We've seen alot of this the last couple weeks because her routine was to the theme song to 'The Fairy OddParents' (kids show).  Every time it was on, she would jump to the floor.

Next was vault, which she was too fast to actually catch doing it.  Here she is waiting for her turn.

...and ready to her on-the-toes take off.

I think she had fun.  Maybe just a little.

Last was the bars.  At first we were a little confused because all the girls did their practice runs, but Verity sat on the bench against the wall.  It turned out that her coach had to adjust the bars.  I guess she was the only one using the bars at that particular setting, so they let all the other girls go first, then shifted the bars for Verity. 

This was actually her practice run.  I was finding that trying to take pictures meant that I was missing the jist of each of her events.  Photographing her warm up seemed to be a good way to get good pics and still watch her do her thing.

After this, she was done!  

We all filed down the hall to the presentation room.  With 43 girls in this "flight", it was alot of people to fit into a room not quite designed to fit that many.  We didn't mind standing--after 4 hours of sitting on a hard bleacher, I was good with a change of position.  We had to wait about 10-15 minutes for all the marks to be tallied.
I'm just starting to learn about the world of competitive gymnastics.  Highland dance, I'm completely familiar with now.  Gymnastics Ontario does things a little differently.  In Highland dance, Honour started out in Beginner level.  Within Beginner, they split the competitors into age groups.  This means that Honour wouldn't be competing against a kid who was way older or younger than her, and had roughly the same amount of training as her.  At a competition, there's typically 12-18 girls in her group.  For each of four dances, they award 6 medals.  The top three get a stamp on their dance card.  Once they get 6 stamps, they move on to the next level (Novice, Intermediate, Premier).  Still, she would be with those the same age as her, within the level.
In Gymnastics, Verity's coaches decided what level she should compete at a few months ago.  We were pleased to find out it was level 3---we had figured she would begin at level 2.  I believe that there are certain skill sets that once a gymnast has mastered, they move on to another level, so it's completely up to the discretion of the coach.  As I said, there were 43 girls in her flight, all 7 years old, but 35 of them were in level 2.  This meant that she was one of only 8 girls in her level.  Thinking Highland dance, I figured this meant for sure she'd come home with a ribbon or medal, or whatever they were presenting.

That's not quite how it happened, but don't think I mean it was a negative thing.  On one hand, I'm one of these parents who is somewhat opposed to kids being awarded for doing nothing of consequence.  I think that when kids are rewarded for every little thing they do, this brings down the standard they are reaching for.  On the other hand, I've agonized through a number of competitions with Honour now, when she has brought nothing home.  Sure, it's good for kids to experience disappointment, but it's awful hard as parents to watch it, especially when they've worked hard.
Gymnastics Ontario however, has got a different system.  If I'm understanding it correctly, each child is marked in each event they presented.  That mark determines what standing they receive--I think the parameters of each medal standing is predetermined: Gold, Silver, Bronze and Merit.  Once each of the four events are completed, the marks are added up, and an overall medal standing is awarded.  This means that each child gets up on the podium and is presented their certificate with five stickers--one for each event, and the overall standing.  A nice bonus today was that each gymnast got a medal as well--I was relieved for this, as Verity has watched big sister bring home numerous medals and I know she's wanted one too!

We watched all 35 girls from level 2 get up on the podiums and receive their certificates and medals.  Then it was Verity's level.


She received Silver for Floor and Beam, Bronze for Bars and Merit for Vault.  Honestly, I can't figure that Merit level out, as I thought she was amazing on that (and her coach seemed to think so too) so I might just ask next week if that seemed accurate, but overall, she was immensely were we!  A very good first gymnastics competition experience!
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